For Now I See Through a Glass Darkly

We humans have successfully reproduced until we have covered this Planet with our 7 billion plus persons, and despite many threats we still persist. However the dinosaurs lived millions of years and only died because of an extinction event; whereas we have lived for only tens of thousands years in comparison.

As we emerged from Africa and began to migrate across the world over these thousands of years, one of the diseases which predates any link to animal disease (such as bovine) is Tuberculosis (TB). Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) has been defined by the recent work of molecular genetics researchers. We have blamed animals for our diseases and, until recently in the UK, hundreds of innocent badgers were blamed for causing bovine TB and they were slaughtered. The fear was that the cattle could pass TB to us through their milk.

Hippocrates in Book 1, Of the Epidemics (410-400 BCE) described a disease of “weakness of the lung” with fever and cough which he referred to as phthisis. Phthisis was described as the commonest disease of the period and usually as being fatal. This term was often seen on death certificates of British citizens in the 18th and 19th centuries when such records were beginning to be recorded.

Many diseases have travelled with us and continue to kill us despite great advances in understanding the diseases and developing treatments and vaccines where possible.

By the mid seventeenth century it was recorded in the London Bills of Mortality that one in five of the deaths in the city was due to consumption (another word for TB). From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century in England, like the other great towns and cities of Europe and America, it swept on in a continuing epidemic of such monstrous proportion, the disease was called the White Plague of Europe. But the history of TB is that in the later part of the 17th century Tuberculosis mortality slowly decreased.

In 1650 doubts had been expressed as to the contagiousness of phthisis, by the faculty of Paris. Soon TB spread over Northern Europe. Northern physicians seem to have been led to believe that the disease was due to a constitutional hereditary defect rather than due to contagion by the fact that it was particularly common and severe in certain families.

In 1679 Sylvius de la Boe, an Amsterdam physician, in his work Opera Medica, was probably the first to use the term tubercles in phthisis of the lung which he called tubercula glandulosa. In addition Sylvius described the association between phthisis and a disease of the lymph glands of the neck called scrofula.

TB in the 18th Century

Tuberculosis mortality probably peaked in England in 1780, at a death rate of one thousand, one hundred and twenty for each one hundred thousand living people each year. This means that one and a quarter percent of the entire population died of the disease each year.11 It is not known how many people got TB but survived it in the 18th century. By the end of the 18th century one in every four deaths in England was attributable to the disease. Then a major reversal occurred and death rates began to fall.

At this time knowledge of disease was derived almost exclusively from its symptoms. But dissatisfied with vague explanations of the disease physicians started to search for more concrete knowledge by dissecting the bodies of dead patients. In 1700 John Manget was carrying out such an autopsy when he observed tubercles so small as to resemble “millet seed” present in all parts of the body. This type of disseminated disease is now called “miliary” tuberculosis.

History of TB in the 19th Century

Around the turn of the 19th century, the death rate worldwide was estimated at 7 million people a year, with 50 million people openly infected. London and New York were two of the worst affected cities. Consumption was probably the most common killer of American colonial adults. It accounted for more than 25% of deaths in New York city between 1810 and 1815.13

In 1891,my Great Granddad Thomas, a tailor, died of TB. He and his wife and her family lived in Halifax, Yorkshire, England after they were married. They later moved nearer York, to be nearer his family. York was a hell hole in Victorian times.

Slums in York

Nearly 3,000 families lived in what Rowntree classed as sub-standard housing, many in slums.  These were cramped, cold and dirty without proper water supplies and with overflowing privies shared by many households.

Thomas’ father, Robert, had died when he was 54 years old, near York. Thomas’ brother Alfred (a waiter) died when he was 52. Another brother, Robert, (a Publican) died when he was 42. A sister, Louisa, died when she was 20. I have no more information on Thomas’s other siblings and their cause of death, but no doubt his 8 siblings lived and worked in cramped conditions due to the oppressive existence during this toxic industrial era.

The main employers in Yorkshire when Thomas died were mill owners. Yorkshire was full of mills creating cloths to meet demand around the world. My Great Granddad would have been sewing locally made cloths into outfits for the wealthy mill owners and their families, no doubt.

The mill workplaces were like prisons, and the homes the workers went back to were even more grim. Yorkshire is a place of undulating landscape where streams and rivers proliferate. It was ideal to locate water hungry industry there, especially for processing cloth. By the time Thomas died, the mills would have steam driven machinery. The machinery was so loud, older workers became deaf. The minute fibre fragments in the air also caused lung diseases. Before 1844 people could die in the machinery until it was fenced off under regulation. It was mostly women who toiled in these factories. Before 1833 there was no restriction on hours people were forced to work.

Thomas died nearly into the 20th century, and he was only 30. He was a father to two boys and two girls, the last born just two years before he died. My Great, Great Grandmother, Thomas’ mother, Sarah, died in 1905. She outlived many of her children, but was living in Scarborough on the East coast by then. One of her daughters, Clara was living there with her husband and four children in 1901. They had escaped the confines of the mill town existence. But many who suffered from tuberculosis believed the sea air would heal them. See details of the famous novelist, Ann Bronte who went there but died of TB nevertheless.

A description of a workers revolt is found here:

Many of us will have similar sad stories about losing members of our family to tuberculosis. It is the case that many people die from tuberculosis because they are made vulnerable to it if they suffer similar risk factors to my ancestors. Usually they are in a poverty trap surrounded by wealthy industrialists.

In the 1900s, the unfairness made them sufficiently angry they would revolt, as in Todmorden. Life was very hard for the weavers and they were oppressed with little dignity left. But the mills also suffered from peak output then slump, and there was no safety net when workers were left without income. By the 1914 War the mills were past their peak, goods being made more competitively priced abroad. Men enlisted and we know we never saw many of them return. One of the causes of death whilst at war was TB, contracted whilst in some foreign trench fighting a hopeless and dismal battle against equally miserable enemies.

Those days of the industrial British Empire taught people bitter lessons about class structure . They learned that to be powerful one had to be a ruthless master. Controlling one’s workers required the tactic of making strong people powerless and unable to fight back meaningfully, using the law to entrap them if they tried to rise up. This process made workers feel hopeless. Their diet was poor because they had little nutritious food available now the generations before them had been forced to leave the farmland and made to work in the mills.

This technique would then be adopted by those who enlisted and were sent abroad to fulfil some order to ‘tame savages’ in Africa and such-like. It has been a template ever since, to perpetuate a sense of hopelessness amongst those who have become a target for the colonisers. The colonisers arrived like a disease to infect their innocent victims and, in the 21st century, we see that we have not redeemed ourselves.

South Africa in early 20th century colonization

Present Day

In 1993 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Tuberculosis to be a public health emergency. In 1994 WHO announced a new strategy called DOTS, for the global control of TB. The WHO TB report for 2019 showed that the world is not on track to reach the 2020 targets of the END TB Strategy.

People already in the at risk groups will also be susceptible to other diseases, such as Covid 19. All diseases spread when people are in a powerless situation, such as becoming homeless but without a social care safety net. Or they might be fleeing their homes from war, persecution, climate change driven economic stress and unable to find shelter except in crowded refugee camps. They might live in poverty shacks such as Favelas, crowded in on each other. HIV could be rampant in the area where they live, reducing their immune system’s ability to fight TB. 98% of TB cases are in Africa. The very place from which our original human ancestors first became bipedal. But we have neglected our birth place and placed untold industrial theft on this once magnificent continent. The population has been brutalised through slavery, led by colonial corruption into a mire of greed and an abuse of power.

There are 22 countries which share the highest burden of TB.

Top 20 by estimated absolute number (in alphabetical order)

Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, DPR Korea, DR Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, South Africa, Thailand, UR Tanzania, Viet Nam

Additional 10 by estimated incidence rate (in alphabetical order)

Cambodia, Central African Republic, Congo, Lesotho, Liberia, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe

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Will we be Fishless? XI

Atmosphere around us on this planet is divided into five layers:

  • Troposphere
  • Stratosphere
  • Mesosphere
  • Thermosphere
  • Exosphere

The ozone layer is found at about 15 – 30 km above the Earth’s surface, in the stratosphere. It is a  naturally occurring gas which protects all life on earth from harmful ultra violet rays from the sun.

Due to our common usage of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in our recent past, we have a legacy of harm inflicted on the ozone layer.

An article explaining the finding and explanation of the damage to the ozone layer tells us:

A hole in the ozone layer, covering an area larger than the Antarctic continent, was discovered in 1985 by Joe Farman and his colleagues on the British Antarctic Survey. They discovered a general thinning over the whole globe – a 3% decrease since 1969, but with greater depletions in middle and higher northern latitudes in winter. Every winter the ozone layer was thinning by up to 8% over Europe.

You can observe daily incoming data and view annual charts on the Antarctic’s ozone layer and ozone hole on this NASA website.

The largest the hole has become so far was recorded on 24 September 2006 at 29.6 million km².  The 2014 mean ozone hole size was 20.9 million km².

Why the Antarctic?

In some areas the ozone layer has deteriorated by 20%, but above the Antarctica, this can be up to 65%!  Since about 90% of the chlorine in the atmosphere was emitted by industrialized nations, you would expect that any hole would be over one of those countries!  However, ozone depleting chemicals (ODCs) are non-reactive which means that they can remain in the atmosphere for decades.  It is only when they are hit by UV light in the stratosphere that they break apart and do their damage.  By this stage they may be in totally different places from where they began.  The extreme lower temperatures in the Antarctic can speed up the rate at which the CFCs are converted into chlorine.

Antarctica is the coldest place on earth – at times colder than Mars!  During the winter time, the sun doesn’t rise over the continent, while temperatures can drop below minus 78 degrees centigrade for up to six months.  This extreme cold is responsible for the formation of special ice clouds known as “polar stratospheric clouds” on the surface of which chlorine gas is created.  Though chlorine is stable and does not react with ozone, it is easily broken down by UV light into chlorine radicals, which break down ozone.   

When temperatures rise in the spring, ozone depleted air that had been concentrated over Antarctica moves over other countries in the southern hemisphere such as Australia, New Zealand, and South America.

At times there is also a smaller hole over the Arctic but the colder temperatures necessary for the formation of the polar stratospheric clouds may only last a month or two.  However experts have found concentrations of chlorine there 50 times greater than expected. A rare and record ozone hole  formed over the Arctic in March 2020. An opening in the ozone layer appears each spring over the Antarctic, but the last time this phenomenon was seen in the north was in 2011.

In order to safely dispose of these harmful chemicals, countries have had to implement hazardous waste treatments.

One of the most well known refrigerant gases has the DuPont brand name Freon.

it has only been since 2017 that new cars in the UK have to use a replacement gas for their air conditioning unit. But anyone with a car built before that date will need to use the ozone damaging gas, Freon R134a.

As of 2017, a new type of air conditioning gas is required by law for all new vehicles.

The gas, called HFO-1234yf, replaces previous refrigerants, as it produces 98% fewer climate-damaging pollutants than its predecessor, R134a. 

On this website, tests are being reported on the new gas.

From 2017, a change in the law required the introduction of a new refrigerant – HFO-1234YF (also known as R-1234YF) – in air-conditioning systems of vehicles, replacing the widely used R134a. This has implications for automotive engineers and HVAC technicians, particularly when it comes to using appropriate gas leak detectors.

What has led to the switch?

The move to HFO-1234YF as a refrigerant for automotive air-conditioning is required by law, as set out in European Directive 2006/40/EC, published all the way back on 17th May 2006. Due to concerns about the polluting potential of vehicle air conditioning and the newly adopted Kyoto Protocol on climate change, this directive set out a number of requirements for vehicle air-con.

Notably, these included limiting polluting refrigerants with a global warming potential (GWP) over 150, retrofitting air conditioning systems, and, most importantly, banning the sale of new vehicles with air conditioning systems using a refrigerant with a GWP over 150 from 1st January 2017, effectively outlawing R134a.

Awareness of this important subject is just one of the areas the citizens of this world require assistance in order to responsibly replace their existing air conditioning systems in cars made before 2017, to accommodate the recommended HFO-1234YF. As the climate warms, more and more people will require cars and home to be cooled by their air conditioning, but if they use old stocks of R134a they will risk damaging the ozone layer.

Solutions to this crisis have been slow in coming. Manufacturers are legally required to adapt their products but this has economic implications and that is why it has taken 11 years for the rules to change just in Europe.

We do not have time to prevaricate in this way.

Here the EPA explain about refrigerants:

What are the environmental concerns associated with the disposal of refrigerated household appliances?

Refrigerant: Household refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 1995 typically contain chlorofluorocarbonchlorofluorocarbonA compound consisting of chlorine, fluorine, and carbon. CFCs are very stable in the troposphere. They move to the stratosphere and are broken down by strong ultraviolet (UV) light, where they release chlorine atoms that then deplete the ozone layer. CFCs are commonly used as refrigerants, solvents, and foam blowing agents. The most common CFCs are CFC-11, CFC-12, CFC-113, CFC-114, and CFC-115. The ozone depletion potential (ODP) for each CFC is, respectively, 1, 1, 0.8, 1, and 0.6. A table of all ozone-depleting substances ( shows their ODPs, global warming potentials (GWPs), and CAS numbers. CFCs are numbered according to a standard scheme ( (CFC) refrigerant. Many window air-conditioning units and dehumidifiers contain hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant. CFCs and HCFCs are ozone-depleting substances (ODSODSA compound that contributes to stratospheric ozone depletion. ODS include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), halons, methyl bromide, carbon tetrachloride, hydrobromofluorocarbons, chlorobromomethane, and methyl chloroform. ODS are generally very stable in the troposphere and only degrade under intense ultraviolet light in the stratosphere. When they break down, they release chlorine or bromine atoms, which then deplete ozone. A detailed list ( of class I and class II substances with their ODPs, GWPs, and CAS numbers are available.) that, if released to the environment, destroy the ozone layer. Moreover, CFC and HCFC refrigerants are also potent greenhouse gases. Their release contributes to global climate change.

We have a massive uphill struggle to CLEAN UP our environment after innocently using CFCs extensively. We must each take personal responsibility for assisting in locating any such items which may still be found littering our home environments. We must get them to the government provided hazardous waste disposal sites as soon as possible.

Here is another extract from the EPA:

The ozone molecule (O3) is harmful to air quality outside of the ozone layer.

Ozone can be “good” or “bad” for health and the environment depending on where it’s found in the atmosphere. Stratospheric ozone is “good” because it protects living things from ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Ground-level ozone, the topic of this website, is “bad” because it can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly for children, the elderly, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma. Learn more about ground-level ozone.

The above picture, headline and extracts below are found here.

Ground level ozone has been found to have a harmful reaction with particles off tyres which have been enhanced with 6PPD.

6PPD: one of several p-phenylenediamine (PPD) additives used in rubber materials, is an organic chemical used as an antiozonant and antioxidant in the rubber industry. It is used almost universally in the manufacture of tires to help them last longer and resist cracking, but is also found in other products such as the seals of pressure cookers, conveyor belts, hoses, and cables.

An article by Erik Stokstad, Dec. 3, 2020 , in online journal Science published breakthrough findings explaining the previous mystery of deaths of coho salmon in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Researchers led by Kolodziej report the primary culprit comes from a chemical widely used to protect tires from ozone, a reactive atmospheric gas.

This is now named 6PPD-quinone .

Looking at the likely reactions suggested a breakdown product of N-(1,3-dimethylbutyl)-N’-phenyl-p-phenylenediamine, or 6PPD. 6PPD can comprise up to 2% of vehicle tyres, being added to help stop the rubber degrading in reactions with ground-level ozone. 6PPD, whose formula is C18H24N2, reacts with ozone to make a substance with a formula of C18H22N2O2, which the team calls 6PPD-quinone. The team then checked waters from Los Angeles and San Francisco, and found 6PPD-quinone in them too.

A manufacturer proudly describes their product: rubber antioxidant IIRCO 6PPD has got an excellent property of protection against fatigue and flexible cracking.

But researches have only this year reported:

Particles that erode from tires wash into streams used by coho salmon.

For decades, something in urban streams has been killing coho salmon in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Even after Seattle began to restore salmon habitat in the 1990s, up to 90% of the adults migrating up certain streams to spawn would suddenly die after rainstorms. Researchers suspected the killer was washing off nearby roads, but couldn’t identify it. “This was a serious mystery,” says Edward Kolodziej, an environmental engineer at the University of Washington’s (UW’s) Tacoma and Seattle campuses.

Online today in Science, researchers led by Kolodziej report the primary culprit comes from a chemical widely used to protect tires from ozone, a reactive atmospheric gas. The toxicant, called 6PPD-quinone, leaches out of the particles that tires shed onto pavement. Even small doses killed coho salmon in the lab. “It’s a brilliant piece of work,” says Miriam Diamond, an environmental chemist at the University of Toronto. “They’ve done a tremendous job at sleuthing out a very challenging problem.”

Manufacturers annually produce some 3.1 billion tires worldwide. Tire rubber is a complex mixture of chemicals, and companies closely guard their formulations. Because tire particles are a common component of water pollution, researchers have been examining how they affect aquatic life.

After Kolodziej arrived at UW’s Center for Urban Waters in 2014, he joined the effort to solve the coho salmon mystery. The group created a mixture of particles from nine tires—some bought new, others provided by two undergraduates who moonlight as mechanics—to mimic what might wash off typical highways. They found several thousand unidentified chemicals in the mixture. Postdoc Zhenyu Tian spent more than 2 years narrowing down the list, separating the molecules based on their electrical charge and other properties. By May 2019, he had narrowed the focus to about 50 unknown chemicals, and then further work revealed the chemical formula of a prime suspect. “If you’re looking for an unexplained toxicant that’s killing fish, we had the perfect instruments and expertise,” Kolodziej recalls.

But what was it? A 2019 report from the Environmental Protection Agency on chemicals in recycled tires mentioned 6PPD, which has a similar formula. The final clue was buried in an industry report from 1983, which contained the exact formula of 6PPD-quinone, the molecule created when 6PPD reacts with ozone. The team synthesized 6PPD-quinone and found it was highly lethal to coho salmon.

Now, the team is working to understand how the chemical kills fish. Kolodziej and colleagues say other species of fish should also be evaluated for sensitivity. Because you can’t buy the molecule, Kolodziej’s team is making it. “My lab might even be the only place that actually has this,” he says.

The researchers suspect the compound is present on busy roads everywhere. They’ve found it washes off pavement and into streams in Los Angeles and San Francisco, for example. The simplest solution might be for tire manufacturers to switch to an environmentally benign alternative. But Sarah Amick, vice president of environment, health, safety, and sustainability at the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, says it’s too early to discuss alternatives. “It’s important that additional research be done to validate and verify these results.”

Another way to protect salmon is to filter stormwater through soil, but installing enough infiltration basins to treat road runoff before it reaches spawning streams would be very expensive, says co-author Jenifer McIntyre, an ecotoxicologist at Washington State University’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center. In the meantime, Kolodziej says he “can’t walk along a street without staring at all the skid marks,” thinking about tire chemicals, and “wondering what’s there.”

Whilst no quick solution is being invented by our science community, death is certain for life in streams where road runoff carrying 6PPD-quinone is arriving. What use are trips to Mars costing billions if we cannot solve these daily contamination problems?

And another tragic finding but one with a happy ending by 2021:

Humans Accidentally Created a Death Trap for Bald Eagles

Now, in an extraordinarily exhaustive new study, scientists have pinpointed the cause of death for those bald eagles in Arkansas. No wonder the mystery took 25 years to solve: The birds died because of a specific algae that lives on a specific invasive water plant and makes a novel toxin, but only in the presence of specific pollutants. Everything had to go right—or wrong, really—for the mass deaths to happen. This complex chain of events reflects just how much humans have altered the natural landscape and in how many ways; unraveling it took one scientist the better part of her career. “It’s just an amazing story,” says Gregory Boyer, a biochemist at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, who was not involved with the study.

Susan Wilde, an aquatic scientist at the University of Georgia and a lead author on the new study, began looking into the mysterious deaths in 2001. By then, the cause of death had a name, at least—avian vacuolar myelinopathy, or AVM, which refers to empty spaces or vacuoles found in the brains of these dead birds. This brain damage is why the afflicted bald eagles seemed blind and uncoordinated.

Man-made lakes were filling with an invasive plant called Hydrilla verticillata.

Wilde had written her doctoral dissertation about one of the lakes before it was invaded by hydrilla; she returned to find dense mats of the hardy plants.

They could thrive in the man-made lake, whose waters were too nutrient-poor for native species. She saw spots on their leaves too, which she investigated under a fluorescent microscope. “The light shone down on the leaves and I said, Wow, the leaves are covered with this species I’ve never seen before,” Wilde told me. She recognized the spots as a new species of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, and she immediately thought they had to be important. This was 2001.

A series of experiments began to confirm her hunch. Ducks or chickens in the lab fed hydrilla without the cyanobacteria did just fine. Those fed hydrilla with the cyanobacteria got brain lesions like the eagles.

The conditions that led to the original eagle deaths—a man-made lake, an invasive plant, bromine pollution—were an accidental confluence of many human choices that engineered the environment. 

Bromine found its way into the lakes that

 could be from coal plants that use bromine to remove mercury or, ironically, from herbicides used to kill the invasive hydrilla.

But a solution was forthcoming after 25 years of mystery and dogged work from researchers to find out how AVM was occurring and leading to terrible deaths of smallest to largest wildlife using the 10 lakes.

The solution:

In Arkansas, where this all started, biologists stocked DeGray Lake with sterile grass carp, as well as a fly native to Pakistan whose larvae eat hydrilla. Those measures, along with a yearslong drought, wiped out the hydrilla completely. Bald eagles there are no longer afflicted by AVM. And bald eagles across the country are no longer endangered, thanks to decades of conservation efforts including the elimination of *DDT. Scientists are now trying to restore the native vegetation at DeGray Lake, this time without hydrilla and its associated toxin-producing cyanobacteria.

*DDT link to increasing polio cases see

This bumper sticker was an attempt to warn people of the dangers

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Will we be Fishless?: Part X

Humans have thought themselves so clever when using their brains for scientific endeavour. Indeed, we marvel at what chemical inventions have taken place, creating products which were meant for human consumption without any thought that they might be harmful. The companies always conveyed to us a belief in their positive contribution to humanity.

Let us briefly study the timeline through history of inventions which took place during the industrial revolution when we believed we were capitalising on being the brightest creatures on earth. Certainly that word ‘capitalising’ is the right word to apply. For generating income for company profits was now a legal obligation since the law would treat a company as a ‘person’ with human and civil rights after the law abolishing slavery.

Monsanto and Bayer

We will go back a century to industries in the USA. Let us look at a familiar name to us all. Monsanto.

 Founded by:

John Francis Queeny, a thirty-year pharmaceutical pro. The company, Monsanto Chemical Works, was named after his beautiful wife, Olga Mendez Monsanto. Founded in 1901, Monsanto’s first chemical invention was saccharin, an artificial sweetener. Incorporating saccharin into their beverage formulas, Coca-Cola was the first company to jump on board with Monsanto’s toxic influence. The U.S. government had evidence of saccharin’s toxicity and even ventured to sue Monsanto, but the government lost. This only emboldened Monsanto for many years to come.………………….


Monsanto scientists knew about PCB toxicity in the beginning, but saw a great global business opportunity nonetheless. PCBs are oils that don’t burn nor degrade and therefore can be used as lubricants, hydraulic fluids, cutting oils, waterproof coatings and liquid sealants. Approximately 50 years after PCBs hit the market, prosecutors had enough evidence to show that Monsanto hid PCB toxicity from the public. PCBs cause reproductive, developmental, and immune system disorders. Today PCBs are banned but they can still be detected in animal and human blood tissue around the world.


In the 1940s the corporation was conscripted by the government to enrich uranium and work for the Manhattan Project. Monsanto had its hands on the world’s most nefarious invention, the first atomic bomb, which was ultimately used to burn the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki into shadows on the concrete.


Monsanto was also the brainchild behind the insecticide DDT, used from 1944 to 1957. In those days, benign childhood infections such as polio became serious nervous system disorders in large part because DDT was liberally sprayed throughout communities and directly on children to combat mosquitoes. DDT not only was banned because it destroyed ecology, but it also imposed serious immune system issues in humans. Dr. Morton S. Biskind’s brave scientific work showed how DDT destroyed the central nervous system, causing damage to the cerebellum and spinal cord.

DDT to Roundup

In the 1940s, Monsanto began manufacturing dioxins. Their marketing team concealed dioxin’s presence in several mass-produced products. Pesticides that contained dioxins poisoned both the food and the water supply for years, creating a geno-toxic nightmare for humans. Dioxin was a concealed ingredient in Agent Orange, the chemical that was sold to the government and used on soldiers in Vietnam. The courts initially sided with Monsanto’s research on dioxin, but it was later revealed to be an effective, deadly poison. Legislation to prevent dioxins from being dumped in the water supply ultimately failed in the 1990s. Monsanto survived countless lawsuits proving that dioxins cause disease in plant workers. Hundreds of thousands of birth defects are the result of Monsanto’s dioxins: $100 million settlements became routine for Monsanto. Flush with billions of dollars in profit, these settlements are just the cost of doing business for Monsanto.

See 50 years on continuing suffering as a result of Agent Orange harm.

Read of the victims today in Vietnam.

Today, it’s only fitting that Monsanto has merged with Bayer, a company that manufactured and sold the chemicals that were used to kill Jews in Nazi Germany. Bayer, along with BASF and Hoechst, originally merged as IG Farben and contributed heavily to Adolf Hitler. In return, Hitler relied on the chemical manufacturers to create Zyklon B, a chemical weapon used in Auschwitz and other concentration camps to exterminate the Jews who were too old, too small, or too weak to work. The Monsanto-Bayer merger provides perpetual funds to settle upcoming cases on glyphosate.

To protect their image and appeal to the next generation, Monsanto partnered with Walt Disney Company in the 1960s and constructed several attractions at Disney’s Tomorrowland. Praising chemicals and plastic, Monsanto introduced the world to some of the most non-biodegradable, hormone-disrupting plastic fibers ever to be invented. Made of indestructible plastic fibers, the “House of the Future” was viewed by 20 million people in a ten year span at Disney, but it eventually had to be torn down piece by piece with choker cables because Monsanto lied about the plastic’s degradability and toxicity. Monsanto would go on to mass produce styrene, introducing yet another hormone-disrupting chemical to humans and the environment.


When a company is finally seen for what it is, it will do a brand change. However, in this case Monsanto and Bayer simply use the brand Bayer as if that name doesn’t have similar negative connotations. As long as the profits roll in and maybe Bill Gates adds his name to their promotional strapline of ‘Feeding the World’ as their global reach extends daily.

Maybe the fact that Bayer are famous for providing us with Aspirin is enough to gain good PR traction.

An article suggests:

Monsanto’s takeover by Bayer could create a GMO juggernaut too powerful for Europe to resist, while conveniently “disappearing” a tarnished brand, critics say. Concerns abound over concentration in the seed market.

Do we really need to see more harm, such as headlines like this?:

Bayer and NFU battling to overturn neonicotinoids ban

………...The ban covered the use of three active ingredients, Bayer’s imidacloprid and clothianidin and Syngenta’s thiamethoxam, for use on flowering crops considered attractive to bees, such as oilseed rape, maize and sunflowers.

………...In May 2018, Bayer and Syngenta launched a legal challenge against the ban, but the EU General Court threw out the challenge and ruled that the commission had correctly applied its “precautionary principle”, which “gives precedence to the requirements relating to the protection of public health, safety and the environment over economic interest”.

PFOA and DuPont

Then we have DuPont, the chemical giant which dominated employment for West Virginians, they gave us PFOA.

DuPont merged with Dow Chemical in 2015.

There is a very sad story retold in a recent movie ‘Dark Waters’. The story dramatizes Robert Bilott’s case against the chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont after they contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals.

I urge you to buy this book by Robert Bilott. We do not have enough strong characters like this man to help us fight mighty corporates when they do immense harm to our world. Here is an extract from the beginning of the book:

Earl had sought help, but no one would step up. After contacting the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, he felt stonewalled. The state vet wouldn’t even come out to the farm. He knew the folks at the DNR, because they gave him a special permit to hunt on his land out of season. But now it seemed they were ignoring him.

“It don’t do you any good to go to the DNR about it. They just turn their back and walk on,” he told the camera. “But you just give me time. I’ll do something about it.”

Thing was, time was running out. It wasn’t just his cattle dying. Deer, birds, fish and other wildlife were turning up dead in and around Dry Run. He had stopped feeding his family venison from the deer he shot on his land. Their innards smelled funny and were sometimes riddled with what looked to him like tumors. The carcasses lay where they fell. Not even buzzards and scavengers would eat them.

Hunting had been one of Earl’s greatest pleasures. He had carried a rifle as he went about the farm, always ready to shoot dinner. He was an excellent marksman, and his family had always had enough meat to eat. His freezer had brimmed with venison, wild turkey, squirrel and rabbit.

Now it was filled with specimens you might find in a pathology lab.

Many of us do not get worried until we see other humans suffering a disproportionate amount of cancers in our community.

But when we humans suffer, as well as animals, we get increasingly concerned. We trusted those who provided our water. If there was a danger in our environment, we trusted those whose job it was to monitor health risks, to do their job and protect us. We expected the law to back up those protections with stringent and tightly adhered to processes.

But deregulation, corporate profit before people, has reduced that trust over time until we now know we are all dying of preventable illnesses caused by our own human actions to poison our Planet.

Here is another extract from Bilott’s book:

.……”the friend mentioned that her granddaughter, five or six years old, was having problems with her teeth. They were turning black, and no one knew why.

A week after that, Joe learned that a friend across town had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Wasn’t that a rare kind of cancer?  Then he learned that his next-door neighbour, a young woman who was also a teacher, was fighting another type of cancer. Come to think of it,cancer had been making its way through the neighbourhood dogs. The folks across the street had recently found both their dogs riddled with tumours. Coincidence? Joe Kiger thought about that letter in with the water bill. It had said something about chemicals in their drinking water.”

Wildlife are the ‘canary in the mine’

Wildlife and animal livestock should be a major prior concern, if we recognise their suffering as a signal to us to act, not prevaricate, but ACT DECISIVELY. Locate the cause, close down the offender, and do not allow lobbying, corporate influence or social media lies to allow them to continue to put the Planet in danger.

Here is a useful article which discusses cancer in animals:

Cancer seems to affect all animals, from anteaters to zebras.  Much less is known about the cancers that affect wild animals, in part because it is hard to study. Animals move around and may not be easily observed for long periods of time.  The cancers that have been studied are very interesting and will certainly prove useful in the study of human cancer.  As an example, Tasmanian devils have a type of cancer that can be spread from animal to animal by biting!

But we humans and many animals have been poisoned by man made chemicals. 99% of us have levels of PFOA in our blood. We are all victims of a toxin which has pervaded our environment and it is only now, after 60 odd years of suspecting it might be harmful, do we begin to find tools to analyse the harm it has done to all living things.

What is PFOA, you ask? Answer: Perfluorooctanoic acid. Is is known coloquially as C8.

It is an industrial surfactant in chemical processes and as a material feedstock, and is a health concern and subject to regulatory action and voluntary phase-outs

It is cancer inducing

Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), Teflon, and Related Chemicals

What are Teflon and PFOA? Where are they found?

Teflon® is a brand name used for a group of man-made chemicals, the most common of which is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE has been in commercial use since the 1940s. It has a wide variety of uses because it is extremely stable (it doesn’t react with other chemicals) and can provide an almost frictionless surface. Most people are familiar with it as a non-stick coating surface for pans and other cookware. It is also used in many other products, such as fabric protectors.

Teflon was invented by DuPont.

Here is an article about Teflon and consequent poisoning of consumers.

It states:

One of the key ingredients in DuPont’s Teflon was C8, a toxic, man-made chemical created by Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, better known as 3M, to make Scotchgard. The chemical, also known as PFOS or PFOA, is what gave Teflon its non-stick properties.

Both 3M and DuPont were well aware of the health hazards associated with C8. But that didn’t stop DuPont from dumping the toxic chemical into local waterways, where it made its way into public drinking water and subsequently sickened thousands of people, and ultimately killing many of them.

You could watch this YouTube about this notorious and heinous crime here.

Efforts are at last being made to reduce our reliance on oil based industrial applications. See this research paper.

It explains:

In the modern world, dependency on petroleum-based polymers has extensively increased over the years. Synthetic polymers like polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), nylon, polyester (PS), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), and epoxy (commonly known as plastic) are derived from petroleum hydrocarbons [1]. These polymers are an incredibly versatile group of compounds—so versatile, in fact, they can be found in all sorts of unexpected places. Society uses synthetic polymers because many of them have highly desirable properties, such as strength, flexibility, resistivity, chemical inertness, and so forth [2–4].

All petroleum-based inventions have been shown to be non biodegradeable. Currently they are likely to last forever, we can only recycle them and hope one day we can end their immortality. Their harm dominates our lives, our environment, our World.

In the UK there was a massive petrochemical fire in Buncefield, Hertfordshire. The fire brigade doused the fire in a PFOS related foam. This was later found to have seeped through the ground and contaminated the water table.

In 2019, an attempt was made to ban any further use of PFOS related use. Sadly the Treaty had exemptions which make it near to meaningless.

I am not sure we have time, but we must create the infrastructure to prioritise the threat, just as we have with Covid, and only reward Corporates when they stop lying to us and prove they exist only with the safety of life on earth as their mission statement.

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Will we be Fishless?: Part IX

The problem of responsibly disposing of PCBs has been with us for over a century, since Monsanto first developed them. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are industrial products or chemicals. learn that definition and don’t forget what is poisoning this Planet and how it first began to do so.

Many of us know them as PCBs and expect, after all we have heard of the harm they do to the marine environment, that by now they are being captured before they end up in the oceans.

Of course, that is a fantasy. We continue our anthropogenic violence toward this beautiful Planet inexorably.

 PCBs were banned in the U.S. in 1979 amid suggestions that these chemicals could have unintended impacts on human and environmental health.

So states the item in the NOAA Ocean service pages on the subject.

It is no longer a suggestion, it is a well known fact.

The article goes on to tell us:

From the 1920s until their ban, an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were made for things such as microscope oils, electrical insulators, capacitors, and electric appliances such as television sets or refrigerators. PCBs were also sprayed on dirt roads to keep the dust down prior to knowing some of the unintended consequences from widespread use. 

Prior to the ban in 1979, PCBs entered the air, water, and soil during manufacture and use. Wastes from the manufacturing process that contained PCBs were often placed in dump sites or landfills. Occasionally, accidental spills and leaks from these facilities or transformer fires could result in PCBs entering the environment.

Any item containing PCBs manufactured before 1979 remains a threat to the environment, these include (according to the US Environment Protection Agency:

Products that may contain PCBs include:

  • Transformers and capacitors
  • Electrical equipment including voltage regulators, switches, re-closers, bushings, and electromagnets
  • Oil used in motors and hydraulic systems
  • Old electrical devices or appliances containing PCB capacitors
  • Fluorescent light ballasts
  • Cable insulation
  • Thermal insulation material including fiberglass, felt, foam, and cork
  • Adhesives and tapes
  • Oil-based paint
  • Caulking
  • Plastics
  • Carbonless copy paper
  • Floor finish

I do not need to look far in my country to see these still in use, and if being disposed of we have recycling centres where we assume such waste is being disposed of responsibly.

The EPA further explains:

Release and Exposure of PCBs

Today, PCBs can still be released into the environment from:

  • Poorly maintained hazardous waste sites that contain PCBs
  • Illegal or improper dumping of PCB wastes
  • Leaks or releases from electrical transformers containing PCBs
  • Disposal of PCB-containing consumer products into municipal or other landfills not designed to handle hazardous waste
  • Burning some wastes in municipal and industrial incinerators

PCBs do not readily break down once in the environment. They can remain for long periods cycling between air, water and soil. PCBs can be carried long distances and have been found in snow and sea water in areas far from where they were released into the environment. As a consequence, they are found all over the world. In general, the lighter the form of PCB, the further it can be transported from the source of contamination.

PCBs can accumulate in the leaves and above-ground parts of plants and food crops. They are also taken up into the bodies of small organisms and fish. As a result, people who ingest fish may be exposed to PCBs that have bioaccumulated in the fish they are ingesting.

The US Environment Defence Fund provide the following advice:

PCBs in fish and shellfish

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are highly toxic industrial compounds. They pose serious health risks to fetuses, babies and children, who may suffer developmental and neurological problems from prolonged or repeated exposure to small amounts of PCBs. These chemicals are harmful to adults as well. Although they were banned from manufacture in the United States in 1977, PCBs are slow to break down and can persist in the environment at dangerous levels.

PCBs accumulate in the sediments at the bottoms of streams, rivers, lakes and coastal areas. These chemicals can build up in the fatty tissues of fish and other animals, and in high concentrations pose serious health risks to people who frequently eat contaminated fish. Based on available data on PCB concentrations in fish, Environmental Defense recommends limiting consumption of certain fish (see Health Alerts).


PCBs are man-made chlorinated industrial chemicals also known by the trade name of Aroclor. There are 209 different PCB compounds (called congeners), which can be mixed in different combinations to yield different Aroclor compounds. These mixtures tend to be chemically stable and nonflammable, with high boiling points and electrical insulating properties.

This combination of useful chemical properties made PCBs popular for a variety of industrial applications, including use in electrical transformers, hydraulic fluids, lubricants and carbonless paper. More than 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were manufactured in the United States before they were banned, and some electrical equipment in use today still contains PCBs.

Unfortunately, the same properties that made PCBs ideal for industrial use make them slow to break down in the environment. Most PCBs do not mix with water and settle into riverbeds, lake bottoms and coastal sediments. Here they can enter the food chain and bioaccumulate in invertebrates, fish, birds and mammals — including people.

Although these chemicals have been banned for many years, increased testing has recently shown that the problem of PCB-contaminated fish is widespread. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Listing of Fish and Wildlife Advisories, advisories for PCBs increased 177% between 1993 and 2003 (from 319 to 884). Thirty-nine states issued PCB advisories in 2003, up from 31 states in 1993. As of 2003, more than two million lake acres and 130,000 river miles were covered by some type of PCB advisory. Three states (Indiana, Maryland and New York) and the District of Columbia have issued statewide freshwater advisories, and seven states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island) have issued statewide coastal advisories for PCBs.Statewide advisories urge people to limit their consumption of all fish and shellfish from freshwater or coastal areas.


According to EPA, contaminated fish are a persistent source of PCBs in the human diet. PCBs are not highly toxic with a single dose (as in a single meal), but continued low levels of exposure (for example, eating contaminated fish over an extended period of time) may be harmful. EPA rates PCBs as “probable human carcinogens,” since they cause cancer in laboratory animals. Other tests on laboratory animals show damage from PCBs to their circulatory, nervous, immune, endocrine and digestive systems.

A number of studies indicate that PCBs harm people, with fetuses and young children especially susceptible to the effects of PCBs on their developing nervous systems. For example, some recent studies found that:

  • Children of mothers who ate fish with large amounts of PCBs from the Great Lakes had smaller head size, reduced visual recognition and delayed muscle development.
  • A mother’s exposure to PCBs and other chemicals was linked to slight effects on her child’s birth weight, short-term memory, and learning.
  • Older adults (49 to 86 years old) who ate fish containing PCBs and other contaminants had lower scores on several measures of memory and learning.


PCBs build up in fish and animal fat, and therefore proper cooking methods can help reduce your exposure:

  • Before cooking, remove the skin, fat (found along the back, sides and belly), internal organs, tomalley of lobster and the mustard of crabs, where toxins are likely to accumulate.
  • When cooking, be sure to let the fat drain away and avoid or reduce fish drippings.
  • Serve less fried fish; frying seals in chemical pollutants that might be in the fish’s fat, while grilling or broiling allows fat to drain away.
  • For smoked fish, it is best to fillet the fish and remove the skin before the fish is smoked.
  • Fish low in contaminants are an important part of a healthy diet. That’s why Environmental Defense recommends limiting consumption of certain fish due to elevated PCB levels (see Health Alerts).

In the UK, fried fish and chips is the undisputed national dish.

There are no warnings to avoid this delicious meal. I have known it all my life, and although I am more inclined to eat vegan nowadays, I can be tempted with fish and chips if offered.

In the US, this is how the Clean Up is attempted. There is an effort to educate through schools too.

In 2017, here in the UK, the Guardian reported in 2017:

Did this information reach you? And, if so, are you taking responsible action?

If not, maybe you are like me and totally ignorant about the subject? I began this search for answers based on the knowledge I do have that fish contain contaminants and I should not eat them as regularly as I would like.

I am aware of media coverage of our plastic filled oceans and suffering aquamarine life. The next blog will be about Oil and Plastic, but we all do know about oil spills as they have been causing immense suffering to wildlife (and people) ever since oil was discovered.

I had never heard that ‘PCBs’ was an acronym for polychlorinated biphenyls, so I have only now taught myself a little about them. Maybe we should all take a closer look?

Race is on to rid UK waters of PCBs after toxic pollutants found in killer whale

Scientists say more must be done to eliminate the chemicals, which have a devastating impact on marine life and can end up in the food chain

The body of Lulu the killer whale was found on jagged rocks on the Isle of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides. A member of the only pod found in British waters, she had died last year after getting entangled in fishing lines.

It was a sad discovery, especially as a post-mortem revealed Lulu had never produced a calf. But the recent autopsy also revealed something else; something that is alarming marine experts and which offers a bleak, damning judgment on the state of Britain’s coastal waters. Lulu’s body contained among the highest levels of a particular type of man-made chemicals ever recorded – more than 100 times above the level that scientists say will have biological consequences for a species.

Few will have heard of PCBs – or polychlorinated biphenyls. The chemicals were banned in the late 70s amid fears about their toxicity. Recent estimates suggest that Europe produced anything between 299,000 and 585,000 tonnes of PCBs. The US produced even more.

But while industry has stopped using PCBs in the manufacture of everything from transformers to thermal insultation to paints and adhesives, millions of tonnes of the chemicals continue to be in circulation. It is only now that their enduring and pernicious impact is being understood, as support for a clean-up, along the lines of successful experiments in the US, is taking hold.

“If we go back to the late 70s or early 80s, there were major campaigns from organisations such as Greenpeace focused on what they called toxics – which included PCBs,” said Mark Simmonds, senior marine scientist at the Humane Society International.

“There was a tremendous effort to get them under control and banned and those bans were effective – the levels of PCBs being detected have clearly declined and so the campaigning organisations packed up their tents and went off to look at something else and we all kind of rejoiced and thought this was a major environmental victory.”

But Simmonds now believes the victory was, to some extent, hollow. While PCBs are no longer being produced, they are extremely hardy, given that they were designed to resist extreme heat. Guidance from the US Environmental Protection Agency explains that PCBs do not readily break down once in the environment. “They can remain for long periods cycling between air, water and soil. PCBs can be carried long distances and have been found in snow and sea water in areas far from where they were released into the environment.”

“It’s a difficult problem,” said Simmonds. “The PCBs are coming from two places – from buildings and materials that are still being destroyed and dumped, resulting in a new release of PCBs into the environment. And PCBs are also getting recycled into the wider environment through activities such as dredging programmes in estuaries.”

Ultimately, PCBs find their way into the food chain. “PCBs on land eventually get into the water course,” said Paul Jepson, a veterinary specialist in Wildlife Population Health at the Zoological Society of London. “Then they get into rivers, then into fish, then into sediment, then into estuaries then to ocean, the ultimate dump. Then they get into crabs and moluscs, then into fish, then into bigger fish and finally into apex predators such as sharks and killer whales at the top of the food chain.”

Emerging evidence of the pernicious impact of PCBs may explain why there are no great white sharks in British waters. “We should have great white sharks around the UK,” Jepson said.

“There’s no reason not to have them. Our seal population has been growing for years, there’s plenty of food and they used to be here; they were almost as widely distributed as killer whales, historically but, when did anyone see a great white shark in recent years off the UK or the north east Atlantic?”

Simmonds believes the impact of PCBs may explain the absence of other species from British waters. “As we look around the UK historically, we would have expected to see bottle-nosed dolphins in any of our estuaries,” he said. “We have them in Cardigan Bay and the Moray Firth and a few around Cornwall and Devon – but it’s very much a reduced population from where it should be. There are many different factors affecting them but one of the key things is probably PCBs repressing their reproduction and making them more vulnerable to infection.”

Equally vulnerable are polar bears, which ingest PCBs when they feast on seals. And, like killer whales, the bears can transfer PCBs to their offspring through their milk. Killer whales have an 11-month lactation period during which they produce very high fat milk for their calves. The higher the fat, the easier it is for PCBs to dissolve in it.

Unsurprisingly, then, some of the highest concentrations of PCBs recorded have been in newborn killer whales. Post-mortems conducted on some six-month-old calves found they had absorbed about 80% of the PCBs that were in their mother.

A scientific paper by Jepson and his colleagues, published last year, reveals that PCBs were found in every single one of 1,081 dolphins, porpoises and killer whales they studied. Of these – about 55% of the harbour porpoises, most of the striped dolphins and bottlenose dolphins and all the killer whales had high levels of PCB – levels that were greater than 9.0 miligrams of PCB per kilogram of their lipid or body fat. It is above this level that races of PCB can have biological consequences for certain species.

But many killer whales have far higher concentrations – typically between 10 and 100 times above the 9mg/kg threshold. Lulu had PCBs measuring 957 mg/kg lipid.

At these levels, species stop reproducing, Jepson said. This probably accounts for why Lulu’s pod produced no calves – the nightmare scenario. Ultimately, if species stop reproducing they become extinct.

And further dramatic evidence provided by researchers in this report in 2018, here is an extract and image from the piece:

Killer whales are particularly threatened in heavily contaminated areas like the waters near Brazil, the Strait of Gibraltar and around the U.K. Around the British Isles, the researchers estimate that the remaining population counts less than 10 killer whales. Also along the east coast of Greenland, killer whales are effected due to the high consumption of sea mammals like seals.

PCBs accumulate in the food chain

The killer whale is one of the most widespread mammals on Earth and is found in all of the world’s oceans from pole to pole. But today, only the populations living in the least-polluted areas include a large number of individuals. Overfishing and man-made noise may also affect the health of the animals, but PCBs can have a dramatic effect on the reproduction and immune system of the killer whales.

The diet of killer whales includes seals and large fish such as tuna and sharks the accumulate PCBs and other pollutants stored at successive levels of the food chain. It is these populations of killer whales that have the highest PCB concentrations and it is these populations that are at the highest risk of population collapse. Killer whales that primarily feed on small-sized fish such as herring and mackerel have a significantly lower content of PCBs and are thus at lower risk of effects.

It might help our human populations to be more educated about polychlorinated biphenyls and how to carefully decontaminate them to save ourselves. If the most accumulations of these contaminants are particularly at dangerous levels around Britain, then it follows we should all take an interest in the subject. It should not be a low profile area of information, but named as a high threat to the Planet emanating particularly from historical industrial applications in the UK. Our government supplies advice, but this is not written in layman’s terms.

UK waste dumped in Turkey

I can deposit waste at our local recycling centre, but there is no information about where it will end up. I know Turkey is the No 1 dumping ground for much our waste, with the intention it will be recycled. But they cannot recycle their own waste fast enough, never mind ours, and ours is dumped by roadsides or set on fire.

When I pursue the subject, I find hazardous waste is termed ‘special waste’ by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. People who know they have such ‘special waste’ must following regulations to dispose of it.

Here is an extract:

What do I do next?

All special (hazardous) waste produced in Scotland must be consigned using a SEPA-issued consignment note or code, regardless of its final destination within the UK.  Further details on how to use SWCNs during COVID-19 are available in Special waste consignment notes – temporary regulatory position.

To purchase SWCN Codes please call 07388 371621. We will provide an order number and codes via text message. Payment by BACs is strongly preferred. You can discuss alternative methods of payment with us via the phone number above.

One-page and five-page editable PDF copies of the SWCN are available to download and use. Please note that you must still purchase a unique code from SEPA to accompany them. Guidance on completing SWCNs (paper or editable PDF copies) is in our guidance on consigning special waste document. Editable PDF copies of the carrier schedule and additional sheet are aso available.

You may use your own paperwork for special waste consignments. However, you must still purchase a unique code from SEPA to accompany them.

The paperwork must be a form corresponding to Schedule 1 to The Special Waste Regulations 1996 or  “substantially to the like effect”. It must also give the details required by the Regulations in respect of that consignment.

If disposing of hazardous waste costs money, many people will illicitly dump items and ruin the environment further. In my opinion, the manufacturers of said equipment should be made, by law, to carry out the process of disposal following the legal process.

If the manufacturer no longer exists, then governments should fund the careful decontamination process and encourage those who still possess such items to bring it to special centres which should have a high profile in all localities.

I searched for a hazardous waste facility in Scotland, and it is impressive, but not sufficiently comprehensive. But had I not informed myself of this subject, I would never have felt the urge to follow through and find out what happens in the specialized hazardous waste collection, recycling, treatment and disposal process.

Tradebe website lists the kind of waste they can collect:

No farm, garage, printing works or other business who know they have these hazardous items on their premises should try to avoid responsible disposal through this kind of service. It is illegal to do otherwise. But is there adequate funding to police all industry to ensure nothing leaks into the environment through their industrial processes? How many times do we hear of chemicals polluting local rivers or outflowing to the sea? The business usually gets fined, but they are not put out of business. Yet they add to the accumulation of harm on this Earth, and are not being severely punished.

As responsible individual citizens we want to do what we can to dispose of our waste responsibly but we may be doing harm without knowing it as the subject is not sufficiently high profile enough.

It is not simply a matter we can leave to activists. It is not an eccentric interest. It has relevance for all life on earth.

Today I saw some Fieldfare thrushes about to begin their migration out of the UK. They used to be plentiful, arriving in their hundreds here. But today I counted less than 6. They are one of the Red Status endangered species. Each day of my life I find there are fewer and fewer examples of wildlife flourishing in my country.

What will be left for future generations when, during my lifetime, I have seen such chaos and destruction rip through this Planet?

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Will we be Fishless?: Part VIII

The ‘elephant in the room’ hardly surfaces when searching for the cause of toxic levels of salt reaching our waterways. But this article clearly exposes the process. Above is a diagram and text below is an extract:

From Roadways to the River

Michigan, like many states in the Northeast and Midwest United States, is a heavy user of rock salt during the winter months to de-ice roads. While salt water has been applied to prevent public roads from freezing since at least Victorian times, the practice was first applied to modern pavement in New Hampshire in 1938. Within three years, industrial spreaders were being used for dry surface salting and gritting with a total of 5,000 tons of salt being spread on highways nationwide. Today, it’s estimated that upwards of 22 million tons of salt are scattered on US roads annually.

The reason road salt works to de-ice roads is pretty simple. Sodium chloride — or NaCl, the ionic compound that makes up both table salt and pure road salt — is very soluble in water. When it dissolves, it breaks apart into two distinct ions (Na+ and Cl-). These particles disrupt water’s ability to form crystalline ice, lowering the freezing point in proportion to the number of ions floating around. This keeps going until the salt concentration hits about 25%, at which point the freezing temperature of the solution cannot go any lower. Different ionic compounds can be used (calcium chloride is a popular choice when it’s too cold out for sodium chloride to do its thing effectively!), but rock salt has proven cheap and readily available. While this is great for improving driving conditions, it’s unfortunately not so great for the environment.Rock salt is loaded at a facility near Detroit, Michigan; the city has its own rock salt mine. PHOTOGRAPH BY PAUL SANCYA, AP. Via National Geographic.

Rock salt is loaded at a facility near Detroit, Michigan; the city has its own rock salt mine. PHOTOGRAPH BY PAUL SANCYA, AP. Via National Geographic.

When salt is on the road, birds often mistake the crystals for seeds or grit, resulting in toxicosis and death. Deer are also attracted to roads to eat the salt crystals, leading to higher incidents of vehicular accidents and wildlife kills. As warmer temperatures arrive and snow begins to melt, salt splashes and sprays off to the side of the road, entering the soil. Through ion exchange, sodium (Na+) stays within the soil and releases other ions such as Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), and Potassium (K) into the groundwater, damaging foliage. Runoff washes down storm drains and into reservoirs, endangering sensitive aquatic communities and reducing species diversity.

Although road salt pollution is usually a bigger issue for the surrounding environment and (non-human) organisms that live in it, it can become a real problem for human beings when it comes up against our infrastructure. Chloride (Cl-) from dissolved salt accelerates corrosion, eating away at bridges, power line utilities and parking garage structures — or in the case of Flint, the plumbing that carries their drinking water.

Many countries in the Northern Hemisphere suffer from snowfall and ice which cause many threats to the economy, car crashes, transportation issues of all kinds and danger to life. The cheapness of rock salt to make life easier and safer has been an attractive solution. But now we see we have an anthropogenic action which has caused major crises to our infrastructure, our water supplies and the health of our environment in general.

The ‘best’ sources of quality rock salt production are found in China and the US. Many countries export rock salt, but do not need it themselves, such as Egypt. Germany and Austria have the longest history of salt production. Quebec and Ontario in Canada are big producers. Some countries in South America, such as Brazil are also producers of rock salt. It is a big earner.

A seller of rock salt provides an idea of costs when wishing to procure some for home or city wide use. It may be a country with a high need can produce its own supply, such as Canada. Here in Scotland, where there can be a reasonably high need in winter, there are companies who provide rock salt who compete for contracts with local councils. Here is an example in the UK.

It is about time we phased out the use of rock salt. I realise the loss of income to some economies will be a problem, but it is like supplying arsenic to kill ourselves.

People are trying to address the problem. Read here for example:

Why You Should Consider Using Rock Salt Alternatives

It’s true that millions of tons of rock salt are used each year, but that doesn’t mean that it should be the first item you reach for when looking for a way to improve safety around your home or business.

There are many other products that are even faster acting and more efficient at breaking down snow and ice than traditional rock salt. Because they work so quickly, less of the material is actually needed, leaving less of a footprint on the environment and saving you money.

Even when these other options are combined with rock salt you will be making a positive impact.

But these alternatives have problems all of their own. States in America are trying to find alternatives as the understanding of the disastrous use of rock salt is made apparent on a daily basis.

North America is trying here, but we are a long way from a world wide solution.

Few cities anywhere in the country have as challenging a confluence of winter conditions as Duluth, where steep hills, heavy snowfalls and lake-effect wind and moisture test road maintenance crews.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has been experimenting with potassium acetate as an alternative to road salt on some of the area’s most heavily used bridges, tunnels and traffic routes near downtown Duluth.

Chris Cheney, maintenance operations superintendent for the department’s Duluth district, said the chemical has shown some promise. It’s better at melting ice in cold temperatures, he said. Salt isn’t effective at melting ice when the temperature falls below about 15 degrees.

Potassium acetate is a liquid solution and costs about three times as much as road salt, Cheney said. But crews are using much less of it than they do road salt, so the cost ends up being about the same, he said.

The environmental impacts of potassium acetate are still unclear. Unlike chloride, the chemical eventually breaks down in the environment, Asleson said, but lab tests have shown it’s toxic to aquatic insects. She said more research is needed.

Connie Fortin, a consultant who trains maintenance crews on smart salting techniques, said there’s no “silver-bullet” de-icer that will replace road salt.

“I think our biggest savings will be in just waste reduction,” Fortin said. “So don’t overapply. Apply it so that it stays on the road.”

We spend billions landing the Rover on Mars, but we cannot allocate appropriate amounts to this urgent problem which has been highlighted by the Flint unfolding story.

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Will we be Fishless?: Part VII

Humans rate water as to how safe it is to drink. The World Health Organization has defined what that means.

If we read their document we learn about the importance of a chloride safe balance. Because we still have lead pipes from the industrial era of the 19th and 20th century, we have realised, too late, that salt can corrode these pipes and thus cause leakages.

Chloride increases the electrical conductivity of water and thus increases its corrosivity. In metal pipes, chloride reacts with metal ions to form soluble salts (8), thus increasing levels of metals in drinking-water.

An example of negligence leading to serious health harm happened not too long ago in Flint, Michigan, USA.

In a research paper we find:

The chemistry of Flint River water was known to be highly corrosive to lead plumbing as well as iron pipe due to its high chloride content, which was about eight times higher than the chloride content in the DWSD water. 

But what of the fish in the Flint River?

In 2018, Michigan government produced this advice:

Michigan releases updated fish consumption guidelines relating to PFAS in Lake St. Clair, Flint River


CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. – As part of the State of Michigan’s effort to address the emerging contaminant, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued Eat Safe Fish guidelines for fish caught from Lake St. Clair and the Flint River in Genesee, Lapeer and Saginaw counties.

Fish in Lake St. Clair were tested as a result of the state’s PFAS effort, but guidelines have been set as a result of elevated levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and/or mercury. Guidelines have previously existed for Lake St. Clair relating to mercury, PCBs and dioxins. While there are three municipal drinking water intakes in Lake St. Clair, they were found to have detectable but very low levels of PFOS, well below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Lifetime Health Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion.

Although Flint River fish consumption guidelines have been in place since 1993 for mercury and PCBs, PFOS was first included for fish in 2015 in the Flint River. Additional fish were collected from the Flint River in 2016 and analyzed in 2017 resulting in updated guidance. The Flint River is not a source of drinking water.

The Eat Safe Fish guidelines are set to be protective for everyone including children and pregnant and breastfeeding women. They are also set to be protective for people with existing health problems such as cancer or diabetes. Eat Safe Fish guidelines are provided as MI Servings. One MI Serving for adults is 6-8 ounces of fish (about the size of an adult’s hand). For children, one MI Serving is 2-4 ounces of fish (about the size of an adult’s palm).

The Limited MI Serving category is a special guideline used to describe fish that should only be eaten once or twice per year, at most, due to higher levels of chemicals. However, people who are under the age of 15; have health problems, such as cancer or diabetes; are planning on having children in the next several years; or are breastfeeding, should avoid eating all fish listed as Limited. The 2x indicates the number of MI Servings can be doubled when fat is cleaned away and fish is cooked so more fat can drip away.

But the Flint River remains a favourite fishing spot it would seem.

The scandal of the negligence of the water treatment company causing a devastating impact on the local population seems to not have influenced the sport of fishing in the Flint River.

Yet, doctors found high levels of lead in the blood of children in 2015 and alerted the authorities. Perhaps that lead has already damaged the brains of those who continue to consume fish caught in the Flint River. They cannot have missed the intensity of global coverage of this infamous situation occurring in the United States of America.

This crisis should be a warning to all of us to assess the state of our drinking water and trace it back to the water sources from which we draw it. We must look at the infrastructure and give priority to the design and implementation of keeping our rivers safe. That is no small order, but we MUST put it to the top of our list.

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Will we be Fishless?: VI

How Fish are Exposed to Pesticides

Fish and aquatic animals are exposed to pesticides in three primary ways (1) dermally, direct absorption through the skin by swimming in pesticide-contaminated waters, (2) breathing, by direct uptake of pesticides through the gills during respiration, and (3) orally, by drinking pesticide-contaminated water or feeding on pesticide-contaminated prey. Poisoning by consuming another animal that has been poisoned by a pesticide is termed “secondary poisoning.” For example, fish feeding on dying insects poisoned by insecticides may themselves be killed if the insects they consume contain large quantities of pesticides or their toxic byproducts.

The above is taken from a useful document.

Farming practices are controlled in some countries and less regulated in others. Sales of pesticides are worldwide. Responsible use requires education and understanding of environmental consequences. Some governments lack concerns, economic prosperity is linked to turning a blind eye to often devastating consequences for wildlife and soil health.

.……..any additional phosphorus applied to the land will run off into waterways, where it is a known cause of harmful algal blooms and deoxygenation leading to fish death.

…… the use of glyphosate increases — the past two decades alone have seen global use increase 15-fold — the herbicide’s relatively small phosphorus content starts to add up, reaching levels comparable to other sources, like detergents, that have attracted regulators’ attention in the past.

This new study argues that the recent and rapid rise in glyphosate use has magnified its relative importance as a source of anthropogenic phosphorus, especially in areas of intensive corn, soybean and cotton cultivation

And from a 2014 article, an awareness of the tiny creatures we are not all aware of that fill the living underwater environment:

Little “Bugs” Can Spread Big Pollution Through Contaminated Rivers

APRIL 10, 2014 —

When we think of natural resources harmed by pesticides, toxic chemicals, and oil spills, most of us probably envision soaring birds or adorable river otters. Some of us may consider creatures below the water’s surface, like the salmon and other fish that the more charismatic animals eat, and that we like to eat ourselves. But it’s rare that we spend much time imagining what contamination means for the smaller organisms that we don’t see, or can’t see without a microscope. The tiny creatures that live in the “benthos”—the mud, sand, and stones at the bottoms of rivers—are called benthic macroinvertebrates. Sometimes mistakenly called “bugs,” the benthic macroinvertebrate community actually includes a variety of animals like snails, clams, and worms, in addition to insects like mayflies, caddisflies, and midges. They play several important roles in an ecosystem. They help cycle and filter nutrients and they are a major food source for fish and other animals. Though we don’t see them often, benthic macroinvertebrates play an extremely important role in river ecosystems. In polluted rivers, such as the lower 10 miles of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, these creatures serve as food web pathways for legacy contaminants like PCBs and DDT. Because benthic macroinvertebrates live and feed in close contact with contaminated muck, they are prone to accumulation of contaminants in their bodies. They are, in turn, eaten by predators and it is in this way that contaminants move “up” through the food web to larger, more easily recognizable animals such as sturgeon, mink, and bald eagles. The image below depicts some of the pathways that contaminants follow as they move up through the food web in Oregon’s Portland Harbor. Benthic macroinvertebrates are at the bottom of the food web. They are eaten by larger animals, like salmon, sturgeon, and bass. Those fish are then eaten by birds (like osprey and eagle), mammals (like mink), and people.

Some of the macroinvertebrates which live in the Benthos

An excellent presentation of river wildlife is here. The above illustration is from the pages.

We can all play our part in working toward ensuring our rivers are cherished and all the life that lives within is healthy and untainted.

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Will we be Fishless?: Part V

A recent study has illustrated that even Mother Nature with her volcanoes (there are approximately 1,500 known, active volcanoes worldwide) is adding higher levels of mercury than she has to date. There are an unknown number of volcanoes on the ocean floor.

Mercury is a toxic, trace metal that bioaccumulates with a long atmospheric life cycle. Volcanic mercury exists as gas, as well as particulate matter. Volcanoes are the only natural sources of direct mercury emission into the troposphere and stratosphere, and are the principal natural sources of reactive and particulate mercury in the soil and water.

The researcher suggests that if you are living near volcanic ash you try and get a reading off a hair sample to be sure you have not absorbed the mercury internally.

We have been aware, through the news, of recent Mount Etna eruptions, producing amazing visuals. Scientist have measured 2 tons of mercury in the resultant gas production.

When this element makes its way into the ocean, it becomes highly reactive with organic matter and is readily taken up by phytoplankton, which mollusks then eat.

The WHO, in their fact sheet, say:

Key facts

  • Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil.
  • Exposure to mercury – even small amounts – may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life.
  • Mercury may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.
  • Mercury is considered by WHO as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.
  • People are mainly exposed to methylmercury, an organic compound, when they eat fish and shellfish that contain the compound.
  • Methylmercury is very different to ethylmercury. Ethylmercury is used as a preservative in some vaccines and does not pose a health risk.

The WHO goes on to say:

Generally, two groups are more sensitive to the effects of mercury. Foetuses are most susceptible to developmental effects due to mercury. Methylmercury exposure in the womb can result from a mother’s consumption of fish and shellfish. It can adversely affect a baby’s growing brain and nervous system. The primary health effect of methylmercury is impaired neurological development. Therefore, cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills may be affected in children who were exposed to methylmercury as foetuses.

The second group is people who are regularly exposed (chronic exposure) to high levels of mercury (such as populations that rely on subsistence fishing or people who are occupationally exposed). Among selected subsistence fishing populations, between 1.5/1000 and 17/1000 children showed cognitive impairment (mild mental retardation) caused by the consumption of fish containing mercury. These included populations in Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia and Greenland.

A significant example of mercury exposure affecting public health occurred in Minamata, Japan, between 1932 and 1968, where a factory producing acetic acid discharged waste liquid into Minamata Bay. The discharge included high concentrations of methylmercury. The bay was rich in fish and shellfish, providing the main livelihood for local residents and fishermen from other areas.

For many years, no one realised that the fish were contaminated with mercury, and that it was causing a strange disease in the local community and in other districts. At least 50 000 people were affected to some extent and more than 2000 cases of Minamata disease were certified. Minamata disease peaked in the 1950s, with severe cases suffering brain damage, paralysis, incoherent speech and delirium.

Note: Acetic acid, systematically named ethanoic acid, is a colourless liquid organic compound with the chemical formula CH₃COOH. When undiluted, it is sometimes called glacial acetic acid. Vinegar is no less than 4% acetic acid by volume, making acetic acid the main component of vinegar apart from water

Since coal naturally contains mercury, it is released when we burn it. But, according to an article in Forbes, 2015, we do not need to worry about how much mercury we release when burning it to generate electricity as it releases only small amounts of mercury–far less than natural sources of mercury such as volcanoeswildfires, dust and the oceans.

This article states:

Mercury, like any substance, is toxic in certain forms and doses and harmless in others. The form of mercury that is of particular concern to human health is called methylmercury (or monomethylmercury), a combination of mercury, carbon and hydrogen. Discussions of “mercury poisoning” are misleading, because mercury only becomes methylmercury under certain conditions, and methylmercury can only be absorbed by human beings in relevant quantities under certain conditions (for example, the element Selenium seems to prevent the absorption of methylmercury).

The main reason we are closing coal burning power stations and trying to reduce burning coal generally is, as most of us know, due to CO2 emissions;

 ………...prior to the Industrial Revolution, emissions were very low. Growth in emissions was still relatively slow until the mid-20th century. In 1950 the world emitted just over 5 billion tonnes of (CO2) – about the same as the US, or half of China’s annual emissions today.

By 1990 this had quadrupled to 22 billion tonnes. Emissions have continued to grow rapidly; we now emit over 36 billion tonnes each year.

Emissions growth has slowed over the last few years, but they have yet to reach their peak.

The risk of mercury poisoning (exampled in the Minamata instance) are described in this article:

They explain humans can consume too much mercury in foods. That is why we must limit our intake of fish now we know some fish contain more than others. Pregnant humans must be particularly careful. The food chain may also have higher mercury levels where toxic fish have become fishmeal for use in animal feeds. See

The analytical approach employed with Hydra-C is supported by EPA Method 7473 which is approved for both laboratory and field analysis for mercury in solids and liquids using Thermal Decomposition Amalgamation and Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy.
Typical applications of the Hydra-C Mercury Analyzer are:  Animal Tissues, Tobacco, Food byproducts, Marine Tissues and Vegetation.

……..Fish get mercury from the water they live in. All types of fish contain some amount of mercury. Larger types of fish can have higher amounts of mercury because they prey on other fish that have mercury too.

Sharks and swordfish are among the most common of these. Bigeye tuna, marlin, and king mackerel also contain high levels of mercury.

It’s also possible to develop mercury poisoning from eating too much seafood. In small amounts, the following types of fish are okay to eat once or twice per week:

  • albacore tuna
  • anchovies
  • catfish
  • grouper
  • pollock
  • salmon
  • shrimp
  • snapper

Though these options contain less mercury overall, you’ll want to take care in how much you eat.

What we eat, and how we eat, can be a major factor in determining everyday interactions such as with vinegar:

The “recycling” of anthropogenic mercury also raises levels of mercury in the environment. Recycling takes place when mercury in water volatizes and contributes to the increase of atmospheric mercury concentrations.

In 1995, it was estimated that forty percent (32 metric tons (t)) of mercury deposited form the air onto U.S. water and soil came from the global mercury reservoir. The other sixty percent came from anthropogenic sources in the U.S. There is uncertainty at this time as to how long some forms of mercury persist in the atmosphere.

In the past, mining was a substantial source of mercury in some areas. For example, the hydraulic placer-gold mines of the Sierra Nevadas released several thousand tons of mercury to the environment from the 1860s to the early 1900s. The U.S Geological Survey (USGS) believes that high levels of mercury in fish, amphibians, and invertebrates downstream of hydraulic mines are a result of historic mercury

Hydraulic placer-gold mining

This technique has poisoned fish in rivers ever since the Romans learned to apply it after seeing their conquered European tribes carrying it out. So humans have been causing mercury poisoning into rivers and seas ever since.

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Will we be Fishless?: Part IV

Whatever we humans do to counteract something which is troublesome, we seem to end up in a cycle of harm which we never intended.

Glasgow’s main river is the Clyde. Glasgow has been the location for heavy industries since the start of the industrial revolution. The population live with harmful pollution.

This is an extract from a news article:

“Poisons in the ground dumped by a former chemical factory are leaking into the river and urgent action is required, a regeneration agency has said.

Cancer-causing chromium-VI has been found flowing into the river, especially when it rains, from the site of the former Shawfield Chemical Works that has been closed for more than 50 years.

Contaminated land under Clydeside poses an immediate risk to human health because of toxic waste leaking into the River Clyde, politicians have been warned.”

The story of the aforementioned industrialist dynasty is here. As with all inventions during this age of invention, the White family flourished and became wealthy and highly respected. Throughout Britain their story can be replicated amongst many rags to riches industrialist endeavours. They did not know or understand anything other than the perceived benefits to mankind, not the future painful deaths caused by the contamination their works left as a legacy. We know better now, or we should. We have no excuse for such ignorance.

The Upper Clyde is so contaminated that fish can only be caught in sections of the lower Clyde. Atlantic Salmon were once plentiful:

“Current status
The River Clyde and its tributaries cover a large catchment area, and support a substantial
Brown Trout fishery. They were also known for large numbers of migratory Sea Trout
and Atlantic Salmon, but many decades of pollution from local heavy industries
eliminated these fish from the upper Clyde system. With the decline of heavy industry
and the introduction and enforcement of legislation to improve the environment the
Atlantic Salmon has returned to the river. The following plan, whilst largely concerned
with Atlantic Salmon will also serve to facilitate the Sea Trout (Salmo trutta).

The Atlantic Salmon has, over the last 30 years, re-colonised parts of the Clyde catchment
in increasing numbers, due to improvements in water quality and environmental
management work. Whilst declining Atlantic Salmon stocks in northern Europe and
North America are cause for international concern, in the Clyde catchment there has
been an increase in the numbers being reported. Most river habitats are used but
salmon require clean headwater streams with suitable grades of gravel bed for successful
spawning which takes place mainly in the autumn and early winter. There do not
appear to be any spawning grounds reported within the Glasgow City area.”

From the World History Project:

On 13th March, 1941, 236 Luftwaffe bombers attacked targets in the Clydebank area.

These included the shipyards, Dalnottar tank farm and large factories which were involved in making munitions, such as Singer’s Sewing Machine factory.

On 14th March, 1941, 203 bombers returned. This time they also attacked targets in the Glasgow area where there were shipyards and the important aero engine factory, Rolls Royce, in Hillington Industrial Estate.

During two devastating Luftwaffe air raids in 1941, the town of Clydebank in Scotland was largely destroyed. Over two nights, the 13th and 14th of March, the town suffered the worst destruction and civilian loss of life in all of Scotland. 528 people died, 617 people were seriously injured, and hundreds more were injured by blast debris.

Out of approximately 12,000 houses, only seven remained undamaged — with 4,000 completely destroyed and 4,500 severely damaged. Over 35,000 people were made homeless.

Clydebank’s production of ships and munitions for the Allies made it a target (similar to the Barrow Blitz). A total of 439 bombers dropped over 1,000 bombs. RAF fighters managed to shoot down two aircraft during the raid, but none were brought down by anti-aircraft fire.

Many wars have taken place around the world since WWII. Every weapon used leaves contamination. Unexploded devices continue to be found. The more wars, the more the contamination. Many Military areas used for training purposes leave contaminated land, rivers, seas and oceans. World Peace is a far off dream, ever receding. Contamination is ever increasing.

Troops ordered to clean up old weapons get personally contaminated.

During the Iraq war, American soldiers were unknowingly exposed to old chemical weapons long abandoned by Saddam Hussein’s regime. The story of the troops who were injured trying dismantle the contaminated weapons has been kept secret until now. Judy Woodruff learns more from C.J. Chivers of The New York Times about his investigation.

Knowing who owns land in Scotland would help us track and trace uses and abuses of this beautiful country. But land ownership details have long since become hidden from the enquiring mind and even campaigners have not yet been successful:

The public deserve access to information about who owns Scotland. It’s time to end the secrecy and the costs and open up all information (environmental, planning, valuation, tenure, ownership) in an accessible manner which is free and easy to use by the citizen.

Over the coming months, I invite those with an interest to join me in campaigning for greater transparency and openness in land information. Contact me at

Knowing who owns the land, seas, oceans, rivers on this Planet is of interest. Do the owners buy land in order to exploit it when they invest? Do they buy it to clean it up? What do you think?

Here in Scotland we have plenty of rivers and lakes, whose beauty renowned the world over. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency keeps residents informed of the quality of water in the country. Here is an extract from their quality indicator page:

“Prior to the rapid urbanisation of the 1800’s, Scotland’s rivers were of very good quality. The deterioration of river water quality throughout the 19th and 20th centuries was mainly caused by the discharge of sewage and changes in agricultural and industrial practices which accompanied the economic lifestyle of the time. Significant efforts to restore Scotland’s rivers did not occur until 1965. Reductions in heavy industry, the enforcement of new legislation and heightened environmental awareness have all contributed to improvements in river quality.

Between 1992 and 2011, the proportion of river length for which river quality could not be calculated fell from 6.2% to 0%.  Most of these water bodies were subsequently classed as unpolluted or unimpacted by pollution.

The proportion of river length that was classed as slightly polluted, polluted or severely polluted in Scotland rose from 6.8% in 1992, to 7.4% in 1998, before falling to 2.3% in 2012 and then rising to 3.4% in 2013.  The main drivers of slightly polluted, polluted and severely polluted rivers are inputs of nutrients, leading to degraded biological and nutrient quality.

In light of increasing data and understanding about environmental pressures and ecological impact, two of the Water Framework Directive standards used in the indicator calculation were changed in 2013.  These were invertebrates and phosphorus.  In 2013, the indicator was calculated with both the old and the new standards in order that a comparison could be made. The proportion of river length assessed as slightly polluted, polluted or severely polluted in 2013 was 3.4% using the old standards and 3.7% using the new standards.

From 2014 data was calculated with just the new standards.

In 2018, the proportion of river length classed as slightly polluted, polluted or severely polluted was 3%.

Most of us who have a pet use flea and tick treatment to protect us from serious illness those insects could inflict on us. These are pesticides and now recent studies of English rivers has found there is major detrimental harm being done as we speak, to the vital food chain of insect life in our rivers.

Below is a link to the recent study:


Environmental impact of pesticides used in veterinary flea treatments largely unknown

Analysis of potential sources of fiprole and imidacloprid in English rivers

Comparison of Environment Agency water monitoring data with reported toxicity limits

Sewage works indicated as a possible route to rivers for fiproles and imidacloprid

Veterinary flea products are a potential source of pollution and ecosystem harm

Researchers are studying rivers because we can see with our eyes they are not as healthy as they were, carrying algae from phosphates or when tested, carrying dangerous toxins from our homes and businesses. In New Zealand, a study found 60% of rivers were too dangerous to swim in due to the harmful chemicals analysed, so what chance does aquatic life have? The answer is a resounding ZERO!

Stopping phosphate pollution isn’t easy, because phosphate isn’t just in fertiliser, in fact runoff from farmland contributes only around a quarter of phosphate in rivers, and farmers have been working hard with support from Catchment Sensitive Farming Advisors from ARK and Natural England to reduce the loss of fertilisers and soils from their land.

The remainder comes from waste water generated by our homes and businesses.  There have been significant improvements in waste water treatment standards, but phosphate can’t easily be removed at all water treatment works. 

Along the Kennet, many of the larger sewage treatment works do have phosphate stripping technology to reduce the amount of phosphate in effluent, but the village works don’t have this benefit. What is more, private systems like septic tanks can’t remove phosphate at all, they discharge phosphate-rich effluent directly into the environment.

What can we do to help?

Every householder can easily help to make a difference – phosphates used in domestic cleaning products account for nearly a fifth of the phosphate in our waste water

So some selective shopping can prevent this chemical being discharged into our rivers.

Many cleaning products have a high phosphate content, despite changes in legislation to reduce levels in laundry detergent.  Dishwasher detergents are a particular culprit with some containing over a third by weight, but low-phosphate alternatives are available – aim for those containing 5% or less.

We all may want to help Mother Nature recover from our abuses. We can play our part by enquiry; use information to influence our choices when buying goods and products manufactured with her health in mind.

We can also choose careers which will not promote harm to her. We can carry out activities which lessen the danger to her. We can teach our children how to respect her.

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Will we be Fishless?: Part III

Discovered in the 1920s, antibiotics have saved tens of millions of lives from pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis and a host of deadly bacteria.

But, as with all things we do as humans, we get in the habit of overdoing everything. Overuse and misuse of drugs are thought to be the main causes of antimicrobial resistance. A large number of drugs found in the environment — analgesics, antibiotics, anti-platelet agents, hormones, psychiatric drugs, anti-histamines — have been detected in nature at levels dangerous for wildlife.

Endocrine disruptors, for examples, have notoriously induced sex changes in fish and amphibians.

A report presented in 2019 at a two-day annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry showed the World’s rivers were ‘loaded with antibiotics waste’. The extent of the pollution exceeds environmental safety thresholds by up to 300 times. Scientists had found one or more common antibiotics in two-thirds of 711 samples taken from rivers in 72 countries

In dozens of locations, concentrations of the drugs — used to fight off bacterial infection in people and livestock — exceeded safety levels set by the AMR Industry Alliance, a grouping of more than 100 biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

Ciprofloxacin, a frontline treatment for intestinal and urinary tract infections, surpassed the industry threshold at 51 of the sites tested.

At one location in Bangladesh, concentrations of another widely used antibiotic, metronidazole, were 300 times above the limit, the researchers said.

Ciprofloxacin, a frontline treatment for intestinal and urinary tract infections, surpassed the industry threshold at 51 of the sites tested.

At one location in Bangladesh, concentrations of another widely used antibiotic, metronidazole, were 300 times above the limit, the researchers said.

“The results are quite eye opening and worrying, demonstrating the widespread contamination of river systems around the world with antibiotic compounds,” Alistair Boxall, a scientist at the York environmental Sustainability Institute, said in a statement.

The countries with the highest levels of antibiotic river pollution were Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Within Europe, one site in Austria had the biggest concentrations anywhere on the continent.

Frozen water samples were collected from the Danube, Mekong, Seine, Thames, Tigris, Chao Phraya and dozens of other rivers.

“Until now, the majority of environmental monitoring work for antibiotics has been done in Europe, North America and China,” said co-author John Wilkinson, also from the University of York, where the samples were examined.

In North America,

“Sulfamethoxazole in the Environment

SMX is a sulfonamide antibiotic that is commonly used to treat a variety of bacterial infections. Previous studies have documented that SMX is a contaminant in both U. S. streams and groundwater, and that wastewater treatment plants and septic tanks are sources of antibiotics to the environment. Although SMX has been shown to degrade in streams, groundwater may be particularly vulnerable to the persistence of SMX. The natural attenuation of SMX in groundwater appears to be constrained due to the absence of photodegradation by sunlight when compared to natural attenuation of SMX in streams.”

(Credit: Vicki Blazer, USGS National Fish Health Research Laboratory. Public domain.).

The above photo of Microscopic appearance of normal and melanistic skin in fish from Chesapeake Bay watershed US, was taken:JANUARY 22, 2021

In 2015, the above lakh fish were released into Gandigudem Lake and in 2017 they died from toxins.

Notably, these fish were released into the lake a couple of years ago, as part of cultivation programme, and most of the fish were Rohu that weighed up to 10 kg. Telangana State Pollution Control Board has however advised all the fishermen to not to sell the dead fish in the market as it carries the toxic pollutants and is not fit for human consumption. The bloated fish bodies that got washed ashore are now rotting and gradually decomposing, and the stench of the same can be detected from about 500 meters. The residents living in and around the lake were in for a shock as they found the fish heaped around, raising unbearable stink.

As part of the investigation process, the Telangana State Pollution Control Board along with the Hyderabad Police have also collected the samples of water and fish from the channels connecting the industrial units with the 266-acre water body.”

Indians are subjected to Big Pharma pollution in the intensive pharmaceutical industrial areas which dispose of their waste into main arterial rivers such as the Ganges.

Researchers from Doon University, Dehra Dun, India, have reported the presence of 15 pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) in the Ganges near two Hindu pilgrimage cities. These pollutants include caffeine, anti-inflammatory drugs, common antibiotics, beta blockers, antibacterials, and insect repellents………

PPCP concentrations near the cities varied, with the highest measured concentration being 1,104.84 nanograms per liter. Researchers found higher PPCP concentrations at the lower, more populated reaches of the river. The concentrations, especially of anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics, were also higher in winter, possibly because of decreased biodegradation associated with lower temperatures and inadequate sunlight, the report said. The study also showed that PPCPs in the region were associated with a higher risk of algal blooms and a moderate risk to the health of river fish…….

In 2020, Balakrishna’s team reported the presence of PPCPs in two tropical rivers in southwestern India, the Swarna and Netravati, which empty into the Arabian Sea……..

The new Ganges research also echoes recent studies tracing PPCPs on European glaciers, where researchers traced chemical pollutants to the use of perfumes in personal care products like soap. Perfumed soaps and ointments are also associated with PPCPs in Haridwar and Rishikesh, where mass bathing events are part of tourism and pilgrimage activities.

The above extracts originally appeared in American Geophysical Union 

Pharma companies in India are growing rapidly. India has an important contribution to the pharma sector. The country is one of the largest providers of generic drugs in the world.

As per the last recent report, about 80 per cent of the antiretroviral drugs used globally to fight AIDS are supplied by Indian pharma companies.

Hyderabad city of India holds a monopoly market in the Indian pharmaceutical industry. The city ranks first in the manufacturing of bulk drugs.

Pharma companies in Hyderabad produce the most amounts of therapeutic drugs. It accounts for 40 percent of the total Indian bulk drug.

Nearly, 50 percent of the bulk drug is exported to foreign countries which includes the UK and the US. Thus, the city is recognized as the ‘Bulk Drug Capital of India’.

We all owe much to the powerhouse of drug production in India. But the people of India are not being protected from harmful waste from the Pharma industry. There should be an inbuilt cost of the highest quality protections so no dangerous waste reaches the once beautiful waters of India, then spread their harm to the rest of the world via the seas and oceans. The evidence is dead or mutated fish.

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