Author Archives: Bix

Captured Swallows Learn To Open Doors

The Campus Bike Centre at the University of Victoria installed automatic motion-sensing doors to make it easy for cyclists to enter and exit without dismounting. It’s a better idea than just leaving an open hole, but the swallows that nest inside had to figure out a way to get in and out. The swallows, being clever birds, have done just that. Who’s a bird brain now? (via Arbroath)

Via Miss Cellania

The Mainstream (e.g. Washington Post) Is Starting To Notice PFAS “Forever Chemicals”

The Washington Post skims the surface with this article, but at least they addressed it!

The Dangers Of PFAS, Often Called ‘Forever Chemicals’, Washington Post, 23 May 2022

See the spinach in this photo? It’s organic. And it had to be thrown away because it was contaminated with PFAS – from the “biosolids” that were used to fertilize it. Biosolids is a euphemism for sewage sludge. Organic crops often use biosolids/sewage sludge as a replacement for the synthetic fertilizers they are prevented from using.

I like how they explained the movement of PFAS (which number in the thousands of chemicals) throughout the environment. We’re throwing all the contaminated stuff away, right? Burning it. Putting it in landfills. But because PFAS doesn’t break down it just gets redeposited into our air, water, food. And over, and over. And it just accumulates. Especially inside our bodies. Where it’s making us sick.

Growing research has also shown that health risks can occur even at very low levels.

Don’t Make The Bed?

I learned something while reading about vitamin C and sleep:

Untidy Beds May Keep Us Healthy, BBC News, January 2005

Researcher Dr Stephen Pretlove said: “We know that mites can only survive by taking in water from the atmosphere using small glands on the outside of their body.

“Something as simple as leaving a bed unmade during the day can remove moisture from the sheets and mattress so the mites will dehydrate and eventually die.”

Vitamin C: Good For Sleep, Not So Good For Physical Activity

Of interest:

The Role of Vitamin C in Two Distinct Physiological States: Physical Activity and Sleep, Nutrients, December 2020

Our work has led us to the conclusion that supplementation with vitamin C has a contradictory effect on sleep quality and physical activity. By increasing the consumption of this antioxidant, one can potentially help increase sleep duration, reduce sleep disturbances, relieve movement disorders, and decrease the dangerous effects of sleep apnea. On the other hand, caution is needed when using this vitamin as a supplement during physical training. No improvement, or sometimes even deterioration of physical performance, undesirable metabolic changes in the blood and muscles, and decline in antioxidant activity were often observed, especially when high levels of vitamin C were administered.

I knew that vitamin C interfered with exercise (Vitamin C Supplements Reduce Endurance, Fatigue Muscles Sooner). I didn’t know that it could improve sleep.

So, there’s an optimum intake range for vitamin C. A gram or more is probably too much. But several hundred milligrams (RDA is give-or-take 100 mg) may improve sleep. (Dr. Greger of NutritionFacts likes 200 mg/day.)

PFAS “Forever Chemicals” Associated With Eye Disorders

A vitreous detachment is a condition in which a part of the eye called the vitreous shrinks and separates from the retina. Can cause eye floaters (spots or lines that float across your vision).

Incidence Of Ocular Conditions Associated With Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Exposure: Isomers Of C8 Health Project In China, Environment International, April 2020

Conclusion:
Our findings suggest visual impairment (VI) was most significantly associated with isomers of PFOS and PFOA. Furthermore, the risk of vitreous disorder increases with long-chain PFASs exposure. To our knowledge, this is the first study to provide evidence linking PFASs with some eye diseases and hence are worthy of further exploration to substantiate the findings and to explore the mechanism of PFASs action.

Remember, other pollutants*, and there are a heap, can be broken down and flushed out via liver and kidneys. PFAS go in and stay in. No flushing, or not much. We add to our body burden every day. And every day we find another disease that has PFAS at its root.

* Take arsenic. Approximately 70% of arsenic is excreted, mainly in urine. Not true of PFAS. Arsenic’s half life is 10 hours, not 4 YEARS like PFAS.

Do Brita Filters Remove PFAS? Real World Testing Data Says No

I do not know the provenance of this blog; nonetheless, it’s a great resource for information on water:
Pure Water Blog

This is what they say about Brita filters and PFAS:

If you’re wondering if your Brita filter can remove PFAS from your tap water, the answer is no. While activated carbon in a Brita pitcher can remove some of these contaminants from drinking water, it does not reduce their concentration to drinking water standards. Brita filters are not designed to treat PFAS and should NOT be used for this purpose.
Do Brita Filters Remove PFAS – Real World Testing Data

Welp.

PFAS aren’t known as “forever chemicals” for no reason. They aren’t metabolized (broken down) by the body.* They don’t get flushed out (like, say, lead). Every gulp you take adds to your body’s burden of these chemicals. Older people naturally have higher concentrations in their blood.

* PFAS will degrade over time. Their half life is 2 to 4 years, depending on the chemical. But a decline in blood levels assumes there will be no more exposure, which is, now, given our environment, impossible.

New Mexico Farmer Kills All 3,665 Of His Dairy Cows After Finding Them Contaminated With PFAS

Art Schaap, shown, euthanized all the cows on his dairy farm when he discovered they were contaminated with PFAS. Source: The Guardian

It’s a story that is playing out all over the country:

New Mexico To Aid Dairy That Lost Thousands Of Cows, Santa Fe New Mexican, 19 May 2022

The PFAS got into the water, then it got into the cows:

Schaap euthanized 3,665 dairy cows in phases over the past four years, when he first learned they’d become contaminated with PFAS from drinking polluted groundwater.

PFAS is short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Dubbed “forever chemicals” because they last indefinitely in the bloodstream, PFAS can cause increased cholesterol, reproductive problems, impaired immunity and cancer.

Highland Dairy, a 3,500-acre farm, is a casualty in an ever-growing environmental and health issue as PFAS increasingly turn up in public drinking water, private wells and food.

You can kill the cows, but you can’t kill the PFAS. It’s “forever”:

Composting will reduce the volume of carrion, but it won’t eliminate the PFAS itself, so the heap of contaminated soil at Highland Dairy will be another hazardous material to manage.

The land is contaminated too:

Schaap said the site is wrecked for any kind of farming. No one will want to buy land with a record of severe PFAS contamination.

Since there is no federal testing program, PFAS are getting into food, and into people eating that food:

“There was milk that left here that was probably contaminated,” Schaap said.

Our ignorance about PFAS is, well, almost comical:

Schaap said he asked federal agricultural managers four years ago to reimburse him for the costs of replacing his herd, but they refused.

Instead, they insisted he try to purge PFAS from the cows by giving them filtered water … the experiment failed.

The science project.

“I feel like I’ve been a science project,” Schaap said.

People think they can stop their exposure by getting rid of their stain-resistant clothing and non-stick pans. Nope. PFAS is now IN THE WATER. It’s in municipal water, ground water*, wells and springs and ponds and streams and RAIN. The answer is (and always was, decades ago when PFAS were known to be harmful) to stop producing PFAS chemicals … of which there are over 5000 by now!

*PFAS have been detected in the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest aquifer in the nation, which spans 174,000 miles and parts of eight states.

Thanks to Virginia.