Hexavalent Chromium Detected in 31 of 35 Cities
Millions of Americans may be drinking tap water containing the cancer-causing metal made famous by the movie "Erin Brockovich." Researchers analyzed the drinking water in 35 U.S. cities and detected hexavalent chromium, aka chromium-6, in all but four of those towns. The chemical can seep into groundwater through erosion of soil and rock, and it's often discharged by steel and pulp mills, metal-plating facilities, and tanneries, according to a report published today by the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. In 2008, the National Institutes of Health labeled chromium-6 a "probable carcinogen," and animal studies have linked it to cancer and other health problems. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently deciding whether to regulate its presence in the nation's tap water; last year, California became the first state to propose its own safety limits as part of a public health initiative. "This chemical has been so widely used by so many industries across the U.S. that this doesn't surprise me," Brockovich told The Washington Post ; in 1993, she accused a gas and electric company of leaking chromium-6 into her California town's groundwater."Our municipal water supplies are in danger all over the U.S. This is a chemical that should be regulated."
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Talking to Teens About Marijuana—9 Do's and Don'ts
Mary Jane won the popularity contest at your kid's school this year. Students in a national survey said they strongly prefer marijuana to other drugs, and more junior high and high schoolers say they're toking up.
The rise in 2010 was small but stood out because it registered across all three age groups sampled in the 36th annual "Monitoring the Future" survey of 46,000 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders. It also turned up at every level of use—in the last day, month, year, or ever, U.S. News's Kurtis Hiatt reports. Seventeen percent of 8th graders, 33 percent of 10th graders, and 43 percent of 12th graders said they'd lit up at least once in their life, about one percentage point higher in all groups than in 2009. And one in 16 12th-graders got high 20 or more times in the previous month compared with about 1 in 20 last year, a jump of 25 percent. [Read more: Talking to Teens About Marijuana—9 Do's and Don'ts.]
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Kids Are Getting Amped on Caffeine, Even at Age 5
Most school-age children drink caffeinated drinks, and many of them are imbibing enough caffeine to give adults the jitters, writes U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute. And their sleep is suffering. That's the news from the Journal of Pediatrics, which surveyed parents on their children's caffeine habits.
It turns out that 5- to 7-year-olds on average drink 52 milligrams of caffeine daily, or the caffeine equivalent of one Coke. That may not sound too bad, but the 228 parents in the new study admitted their 8- to 12-year-olds drink the caffeine equivalent of almost three Cokes daily. And the more caffeine the kids took in, the less they slept.
It's hard to imagine parents thinking double lattes are a good choice for kids, but the fact is that 75 percent of the 228 parents surveyed by the researchers, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, said their kids down caffeinated drinks daily. Soft drinks are the biggest culprit; they're also a bad choice for kids because they're high in sugar, with zero nutritional value. Schools don't always help on this. A recent study found that 14 percent of public elementary school students and 38 percent of private elementary school students can buy sugar-sweetened beverages at school. And kids often don't realize that Gatorade and other sports drinks are just soft drinks in disguise. [Read more: Kids Are Getting Amped on Caffeine, Even at Age 5.]
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