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EPA’s Repeated Experiments on Poor Children

Bloged in Miscellaneous, Technology by Gutter Grunt Monday April 14, 2008 at about 2:02 am

In 2001 a justice of Maryland’s highest court implied that the US government, including the EPA, has learned a lot from the Nazis about how to turn innocent and unsuspecting citizens into experimental Guinea pigs.

Justice Cathell juxtaposed the US government’s history of human research against the Nazis’ human research. For example from 1932 until 1972, the US Public Health Service conducted the notorious Tuskegee Syphilis Study that withheld penicillin and other treatment options from 400 poor black sharecroppers infected with syphilis in order to study the long term effects of the disease. Not only was treatment and diagnosis information withheld from the subjects, but they were blatantly lied to in order to obtain and maintain their cooperation. Link to Wikipedia article.

For decades before, during, and after WWII, the US government approved, funded, and participated in the eugenics craze so admired by Hitler, including incarcerating and forcefully sterilizing of thousands of mentally retarded individuals. Wiki link.

In the 1940’s and 1950’s the US government knowingly and intentionally exposed US servicemen to fallout radiation from atomic bomb tests, and Navajo Indian uranium miners to radioactive mining dust. In the 1950’s and 1960’s the Army and CIA intentionally and secretly poisoned dozens of soldiers with hallucinogens, including LSD. Some committed suicide during their hallucinations. In 1963 Jewish males were unwittingly injected with live cancer cells in a study funded by the US Public Health Services and the American Cancer Society.

Mind you, these are only progroms that became public. These are the tip of the iceberg.

The case Justice Cathell was writing about was a suit brought by Baltimore families over a study funded and approved by the EPA and conducted in the Baltimore inner city projects by a worrisome dude named Mark Farfel, who headed the lead studies wing of one of Johns Hopkins research groups, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Inc. He is now head of the World Trade Center Registry for 9/11 victims. In this first study, which was conducted in the 1990’s, the families were recruited to live in inner city houses that were expected to produce lead dust. The experiment was designed to determine if different methods of reclaiming houses tainted by lead were effective. The way you do that, apparently, is turn kids into your Guinea pigs and see how much lead they accumulate when living in houses with differing lead-histories.

Johns Hopkins people were right in the middle of this mess. Not only did they design the experiments, write the grant applications, and collect the grant money, but the John Hopkins ethics committee approved of the study and advised Farfel on how to twist the grant language so the study would sound like it was of therapeutic benefit to the kids in order to avoid federal scrutiny. It was actually John Hopkin’s Kennedy Krieger Institute that was named in the lawsuit.

Justice Cathell went right through the roof on this case, writing a searing 103 page opinion and comparing Farfel’s experiments to the Nazis’ typhus experiments at Buchenwald . You can get a copy of the opinion here.

Here’s the way the Court described what Farfel and Co did:

“The same researchers had completed a prior study on abatement and partial abatement methods that indicated that lead dust remained and/or returned to abated houses over a period of time. In an article reporting on that study, the very same researchers said: ‘Exposure to lead-bearing dust is particularly hazardous for children because hand-to-mouth activity is recognized as a major route of entry of lead into the body and because absorption of lead is inversely related to particule size.’ Mark R. Farfel & J. Julian Chisolm, Health and Environmental Outcomes of Traditional and Modified Practices for Abatement of Residential Lead-Based Paint, 80 American Journal of Public Health 1240, 1243 (1990). After publishing this report, the researchers began the present research project in which children were encouraged to reside in households where the possibility of lead dust was known to the researcher to be likely, so that the lead dust content of their [i.e., the children’s] blood could be compared with the level of lead dust in the houses at periodic intervals over a two-year period.”

That opinion was written in 2001. Farfel is back in the news today. The AP is reporting [Link] that in a 2005 paper Farfel describes how he and a bunch of his Johns Hopkins buddies went back into a poor Baltimore community and sludged the yards children play in with composted BS. Farfel and a side kick co-author from the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, an agronomist named Rufus Chaney, claimed that by sludging the ground they actually did the kids who play on it a favor because the BS – we’re talking processed human feces here – binds a number of heavy metals, including lead, and so – walla!! – when the kids eat it, the metals should pass through the kids’ digestive tracts without being absorbed. Of course, that’s nothing more than a fat guess of a hypothesis. And they test the hypothesis by exposing the kids to whatever is in the BS.

Great modus operandi – expose children to toxins in the form of lead dust or BS and see what happens. We’ll call this the “John Hopkins Protocol.” Poor children work best because their folks are the least likely to figure out what’s going on, or complain, or sue. According to the AP article: “Chaney said the Baltimore neighborhoods were chosen because they were within an economically depressed area qualifying for tax incentives. He acknowledged the families were not told there have been some safety disputes and health complaints over sludge.”

Right, Rufus, you call that informed consent when you don’t tell them that there could be active pharmaceuticals, drug resistant microbes or at least microbial drug resistant DNA (see my last post), myriad organic toxins, and a whole smorgasbord of heavy metals in the BS? There is not a single word in Farfel’s abstract and summary about analyzing the BS for toxins before they exposed the children to it. Link to the abstract. [I haven’t been able to find the full article.] Nor, as the AP points out, is there any indication of any medical follow up on the children.

Another John Hopkins researcher, Thomas Burke, who was chairman of the famous 2002 National Academy of Sciences sludge review pointed out for the AP that even if sludge does bind lead in the dirt, the sludge could still release the heavy metals for absorption when it hits the acidic environment of the stomach.

More great BS research from the EPA. What we’ve come to expect, I guess. Hopefully, somebody will get their skivvies sued off on this one, too, which is also what we’ve come to expect.

The cost of war — diverted and delayed domestic projects

Bloged in Technology by Gutter Grunt Tuesday February 5, 2008 at about 3:12 am

As a patent lawyer I am seeing a fair few projects related to green energy heading down the patent pipeline. And as a sludge-warrior I am hopeful and optimistic that soon all BioSolids (BS) will be converted into kilowatts. I believe that someday soon, rural communities will be begging NYC to send them more BS so they can convert it to energy. Whoever brings this technology to market first will have a gold mine. A quite a few companies are trying hard.

A company in Bakersfield, Ca. named Liberty Energy may be leading the pack in this race. It’s ironic that they’re in Bakersfield because that whole Kern County situation is currently a huge BS mess, both in the courts and in the political arena. But Liberty Energy has got some full-scale, honest-to-God projects almost to the construction stage. There are a couple projects scheduled in Calif. and one in Hamilton, Ontario,

One project, in Banning, Calif, is due to be operational by 2011. It will cost $180 million, pump 15 MW into the local grid, and generate $2 million per year in tax revenue. Go to Liberty’s site and check it out. Link.   They explain the process quite well.

With a meager 1/100th of the $600 billion Bush is pumping into the Iraq war, this whole BS problem could have been easily solved for good in a way that would put huge amounts of electricity into the grid. A number of technologies are virtually ready to go on-line. The need is there, the technology is there, the money is going down a hole in Iraq — a hole called Halliburton/KBR.

Short and long-term solutions.

Bloged in Strategies, Technology by Gutter Grunt Thursday January 10, 2008 at about 9:00 am


Funds, political influence, and solutions are three things that sludge-warriors are typically short of. But here is a letter Mary Carwile has just sent the Va. legislature offering some short-term and long-term solutions. You can contact her at humhaven10@aol.com.

VA Legislators January 9, 2008
Dear Honorable Delegates and Senators:
We have been following the Biosolids Expert Panel meetings and make it a point to have concerned citizens present for each of the committee meetings: Health and Environment Committee meetings as well as the Full Panel meetings. It has been quite a learning experience for all of us.
We ask that you consider the following for possible legislation for the upcoming General Assembly session.
1. Alternatives to Land Applications of Biosolids/Sludge:
Land application of municipal sewage sludge is not a sustainable, beneficial, or safe practice. Hundreds of rural sludge-exposed neighbors have reported serious adverse health effects. Deaths have been linked to this practice. Groundwater has been impacted. Livestock ingesting hay grown on sludged land has died. The repeated sludging leads to the accumulation of persistent pollutants in a non-renewal resource, resulting in degradation of farmland. Therefore we propose the following solutions:
(1) Short term: sludge should be stored in properly sited landfills or monofills; monofills are specifically designed storage pits for biosolids/sludge, they will be constructed to house sewage sludge that will be covered at all times and capped when full. It will also be designed so there is little to no leakage and will be monitored at each site same as landfills.(we are in the process of investigating this option further and will keep you abreast of new developments.) These pits will not be in close proximity to any populated area so that there would not be an odor problem or a problem with delivery.
(2) Long-term: sludge should be used as a source of renewable energy through high temperature gasification. It is the perfect material for small, decentralized waste-to-energy plants. Monofills are the immediate answer to the storage of sludge until technology has been developed to utilize the constituents in sludge with quantifiable and acceptable risks. We suggest Legislators apply for an EPA or Department of Energy Grant to build a high temperature gasification pilot plant.
To reduce risks to human health and the environment we urge you to modify the current sludge management rules:
1. Limitations on Field Storage of Biosolids/Sludge:(1) Field Storage of biosolids/sludge shall not be permitted for longer than seven days. If sludge is stockpiled longer, pathogen testing is required.2. Minimum Biosolids/Sludge Buffers:No biosolids/sludge shall be applied (1) within 1.5 miles of any residence, business, or place where people gather on a regular basis or (2) within 3.5 to 5 miles of immune or respiratory system- compromised individuals or individuals who have suffered health problems in conjunction with the spread/disposal biosolids/sludge and (3) request from physicians that their patients should not be exposed to the constituents in biosolids/sludge.
3. Sludge should not be top dressed but immediately incorporated into the soil
4. Sludge should not be applied on grazing pastures.
Thank you for your time and consideration of citizens input on the biosolids/sludge issue in our state.
Mary H. Carwile, Chair
Commonwealth Coalition (CRAS)

Is the end of the sludge-wars in sight?

Bloged in Technology by Gutter Grunt Tuesday January 1, 2008 at about 9:36 am


Just five hours into 2008, the first post of any new year has to be positive, and in this field the only positive news comes in the form of technology.

Maureen has just sent out an article from Dunedin, Fl, where they hope to change BS into watts or mpgs using “plasma arc flow” technology from a company named MagneGas. Their website: http://www.magnegas.com/technology.html

This is eventually what every community will be doing with the malordorus BS we all produce but despise so much, and one day, soon, BS will become a valuable source of energy for cars and electric generating stations. I mean soon. 2010. Maybe sooner.

As a patent lawyer I see a lot of this technology now in development.The “plasma arc flow” technology Dunedin is looking at is an “underliquid electric arc” in which a huge DC current is passed between a tungsten electrode and a carbon (coal) electrode submerged in the BS slurry. If you go to pat2pdf.org and enter the patent number 6926872, you can get a fairly readable discussion of the technology Duneden is looking at and the technical hurdles faced by inventors in this field. I would warn you tho’ that patents represent the apex of legalese-babble-idiocy, and you will find sentences like the following:

“As a matter of consistency only, the cathode, as defined and used in the specification herein, will sometimes be referred to as the first electrode and accordingly, the second electrode will sometimes be referred to as the second electrode.” (This is not a joke; it’s typical.)

The technical problems standing between BS and gas you can use to power a car are not insurmountable, although a number of companies have gone bust trying. Basically, you have to organize a couple of electrodes that will survive temperatures of 10,000 F. without burning out. Because they are submersible, there are all sorts of problems sealing the electrodes that must be resolved, too. But the solutions are coming, and when they get here, our fight with the BS haulers and sludge-farmers will be over because there won’t be any BS haulers or sludge-farmers.

– GG

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