In Short

Published: Monday 30 June 2003

toddlers in trouble: A research institute has found high levels of mercury in 60 per cent of newborns at hospitals in Itaituba city, in the Brazilian Amazon. Out of the 1,666 babies born during 2002 in the hospitals, 1,000 were detected with mercury contamination. Some of the kids had 80 parts per million (ppm) of mercury in their blood, as against the World Health Organization's highest acceptable level of 30 ppm.

charting the course: The task force on interlinking of rivers has directed the Indian Space Research Organisation and National Remote Sensing Agency to map the waterbodies as a preliminary measure. At a recent convention on 'Interlinking of rivers -- challenges and advantages', task force chairperson Suresh Prabhu observed that the gigantic project should be implemented irrespective of cost and time.

slippery slope: The US government's plan to allow off-road vehicles in the Californian desert has met with stiff opposition from environmentalists. The government has decided to open some 19,829 hectares that had been out of bounds for off-road vehicles in the 64,749 hectares Imperial Sand Dunes in southeastern California. This area is the habitat of many endangered species such as the desert tortoise. It is also the most popular off-road driving area in the southwestern part of the country.

polluted port: Lax laws and poor enforcement have taken their toll on Bangladesh's main port. Pollution levels in the area have reached dangerous levels as the Chittagong port lacks laws to stop the dumping of harmful waste by local and foreign vessels. Instead of imposing heavy penalties or seizing ships for polluting the sea, the authorities let the offenders get away scot-free, alleges Mohammed Mosharraf Hossain, director of Chittagong's environment department.

technical glitch: Believe it or not. The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) uses an outdated computer system to monitor and control water pollution. According to a report released recently by the EPA's inspector general, the agency's computer system is outmoded, riddled with bad data and lacks information on thousands of sources of serious pollution. Efforts to fix the system have been slow, mismanaged and hamstrung due to shortage of funds.

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