The Beat

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Linking Lead to Alzheimer Disease

Scientists from Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals presented evidence at the April 2000 annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology that people who have held jobs with high levels of lead exposure have a 3.4 times greater likelihood of developing Alzheimer disease.

The researchers also examined exposures to a variety of other substances, including aluminum, copper, iron, mercury, zinc, and solvents, but only lead exposure was found to increase the risk of Alzheimer disease. People can be exposed to lead on the job either by breathing in lead dust or through direct skin contact. Coauthor Elisabeth Koss noted, "Lead exposure remains a major public concern because of its adverse effects on brain development and health in general, even with low exposure levels."

Robowell Polices Groundwater

An automated groundwater monitoring system nicknamed "Robowell" has been patented by USGS scientists in Massachusetts. The system automatically measures water levels and groundwater quality at regular intervals and then transmits the findings to a human supervisor through radio, modem, or satellite.

Using the same sampling methods as human crews, Robowell is stationed at a well cluster, where it can test the water frequently. It can also monitor other sources of known or potential contamination, such as landfills and industrial sites. The USGS has tested the technology in several situations, including a sewage treatment facility and an experimental groundwater cleanup test site.

Indonesia Implements Emissions Test

In a step toward alleviating Indonesia's serious air pollution problem, the country's State Ministry of Environment has mandated annual exhaust emission tests on all drivable vehicles. Until now, only public buses were required to be inspected. Currently, most Indonesian cars are still fueled with leaded gasoline. According to an InterPress Third World News Agency article dated 13 April 2000, officials hope the emissions test will increase public awareness about the dangers of leaded gas and encourage automobile owners to switch to unleaded fuel.

In Jakarta, lead pollution has reached a level of 1.3 [micro]g/[m.sup.3], exceeding the 0.5-1.0 [micro]g/[m.sup.3] recommended maximum set by the WHO. Vehicular emissions cause 60-70% of the air pollution in Indonesia's cities.

Kentucky Clamps Down on Factory Farm Pollution

In February 2000, Kentucky adopted emergency regulations to address the potential pollution problems of large-scale confined animal feeding operations in the state. …