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Iraq records huge rise in birth defects

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The Independent 10/14/12 

New study links increase with military action by Western forces

It played unwilling host to one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war. Fallujah’s homes and businesses were left shattered; hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed. Its residents changed the name of their “City of Mosques” to “the polluted city” after the United States launched two massive military campaigns eight years ago. Now, one month before the World Health Organisation reveals its view on the legacy of the two battles for the town, a new study reports a “staggering rise” in birth defects among Iraqi children conceived in the aftermath of the war.

High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiralling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded. Even more disturbingly, they appear to be occurring at an increasing rate in children born in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

There is “compelling evidence” to link the increased numbers of defects and miscarriages to military assaults, says Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, one of the lead authors of the report and an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. Similar defects have been found among children born in Basra after British troops invaded, according to the new research.

US marines first bombarded Fallujah in April 2004 after four employees from the American security company Blackwater were killed, their bodies burned and dragged through the street, with two of the corpses left hanging from a bridge. Seven months later, the marines stormed the city for a second time, using some of the heaviest US air strikes deployed in Iraq. American forces later admitted that they had used white phosphorus shells, although they never admitted to using depleted uranium, which has been linked to high rates of cancer and birth defects.

The new findings, published in the Environmental Contamination and Toxicology bulletin, will bolster claims that US and Nato munitions used in the conflict led to a widespread health crisis in Iraq. They are the latest in a series of studies that have suggested a link between bombardment and a rise in birth defects. Their preliminary findings, in 2010, prompted a World Health Organisation inquiry into the prevalence of birth defects in the area. The WHO’s report, out next month, is widely expected to show an increase in birth defects after the conflict. It has looked at nine “high-risk” areas in Iraq, including Fallujah and Basra. Where high prevalence is found, the WHO is expected to call for additional studies to pinpoint precise causes.

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Farmers Encouraged To Spread Toxic Coal Ash On Fields

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Beth Buczynski Care2

Despite what coal industry executives and opponents of renewable energy research would have you believe, America is running out of this filthy, costly, fossil fuel- and not a moment too soon.

Businessweek Magazine recently reported that “the federal government is encouraging farmers to spread a chalky waste from coal-fired power plants on their fields to loosen and fertilize soil even as it considers regulating coal wastes for the first time.”

Just over a year ago, an enormous coal ash spill took place at Tennessee’s Kingston TVA Coal Plant, spewing 525 million to 1 billion gallons of coal ash sludge (enough to cover 400 acres in coal ash about 6 feet deep) into the Emory River, potentially contaminating the water supply for Chattanooga, Tennessee as well as millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

With clean up efforts STILL underway for the TVA spill, which the EPA called “one of the worst environmental disasters of its kind in history,” both the EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture are now brazenly promoting what they call the wastes’ “beneficial uses” in an effort to deal with the excessive ash piling up around the nation’s coal-fired plants.

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