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FROTH AND BUBBLE
Olympics: Tokyo 2020 water venue polluted
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 4, 2017


Setback for EU deal on hormone-disrupting chemicals
Strasbourg, France (AFP) Oct 4, 2017 - The EU's efforts to regulate chemicals which can potentially disrupt the body's hormones suffered a setback on Wednesday when MEPs blocked a key proposal.

The European Parliament voted against a list produced by the European Commission of criteria to help identify what are known as endocrine disruptors in products used to protect farm animals and plants from disease and insects.

Endocrine disruptors are believed to have a role in many health conditions, from obesity to infertility, and are found in many common goods such as cosmetics or even toys.

"Parliament blocked an EU Commission proposal which would have exempted some chemicals in pesticides from being identified as endocrine disruptors, on Wednesday," parliament said in a statement.

It accused the commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation bloc, of "exceeding its mandate".

The setback came just three months after an apparent breakthrough in a three-year stand-off over the chemicals, when EU member states approved the commission's list.

EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said in a statement that he "regrets" the parliament decision, adding that "in this case no deal is a bad deal for EU citizens."

"The commission will now need to reflect on next steps to take," he said.

The body's endocrine system -- in the ovaries and testes, as well as the adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands -- produce hormones that are secreted into the bloodstream to control and coordinate a range of critical body functions.

These hormones help regulate energy levels, reproduction, growth, development, as well as our response to stress and injury.

The disruptors issue has pitted industry and agriculture against consumer and environmental groups for many years.

The EU even announced last year that it had reached broad agreement on what substances were involved but had to go back to the drawing board amid controversy.

Tokyo Olympic organisers said Wednesday that prolonged summer rain had temporarily brought high levels of bacteria to a venue intended for triathlon and marathon swimming at the 2020 Games.

The admission came during a visit by International Olympic Committee officials to assess Tokyo's readiness to host the Games, with just a little over 1,000 days to go.

Many samples taken from late July through early September at the Odaiba Marine Park showed elevated levels of pollution, particularly following rain.

"The timing and the volume of rainfall impacted the data," said Koji Murofushi, sports director for the Tokyo 2020 organising committee.

Murofushi blamed unusually long rains -- the Japanese capital saw three straight weeks of precipitation at that time -- that brought pollutants from offshore.

Tokyo officials said underwater screens and better infrastructure, including beefed up local sewage, should help maintain the water quality to international standards.

The facility routinely hosts triathlon and swimming events that meet international quality standards, sports officials said.

Low bacteria readings followed sunny or cloudy days, according to organisers.

Murofushi rejected the idea of changing the venue, pledging that "measures will be taken so that we can provide an excellent environment for the sports" during the 2020 Games.

IOC vice president John Coates warned the Japanese capital should prepare for the worst possible weather conditions.

The IOC expected Tokyo to take steps "to ensure that even in the worst of conditions that those matters will be addressed and the health of athletes in those two sports will not be prejudiced in any way", Coates said.

Swimming's governing body FINA said it will also help Tokyo prepare the best possible venue.

"As the world governing body for Aquatic sports, FINA will keep working closely with the Tokyo Metropolitan government and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee to ensure the best available venue and environment for the marathon swimming events in 2020," it said.

Organisers of the Rio Olympics in 2016 were left red-faced when the pool used for diving events turned an unsettling shade of green overnight.

Separately, Coates said Tokyo should aim to cut overall costs by $1 billion from the current $12 billion budget, including studying ways to reduce the services at the athletes' village.

FROTH AND BUBBLE
Mountains of garbage and despair in India's dirtiest city
Gonda City, India (AFP) Oct 2, 2017
Flies throng over piles of faeces, the drains overflow with sewage and the foul smell in the air is inescapable. Welcome to Awas Vikas: one of the most exclusive parts of Gonda, a city suffering the ignominy of being branded the dirtiest in India. Even in such upmarket areas, garbage trucks are rarely seen, green spaces are littered with rubbish, and residents are desperate for their bi ... read more

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