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Posts Tagged ‘new mexico’

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Photo: Don J. Usner for Searchlight New Mexico
Art Schaap had a successful dairy farm in Clovis, New Mexico. After he learned that “forever chemicals” from a military base were polluting his cows’ milk, everything changed.

Suzanne has a college friend who writes well-researched investigations into things that go wrong in our world and what people are doing to address them.

In this report at the Huffington Post, Sara Van Note writes about dangerous “forever chemicals” getting into our food supply.

“At Art Schaap’s dairy farm in Clovis, New Mexico, sprinklers draw from deep wells to water green fields of sorghum and corn. Near the milking barn Schaap built almost three decades ago, glossy black-and-white cows lap water from a pipe. Schaap used to ship thousands of gallons of milk each day to milk co-ops and cheese producers, who in turn sold to consumers across the country. But for the last year, he has poured all that milk down the drain.

“In September 2018, Schaap got an unexpected visit from an official with Cannon Air Force Base, which adjoins his Highland Dairy property. The official gave him a letter indicating that tests found his well water was contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of chemicals that have been linked to reproductive and developmental problems as well as cancer. The chemicals had migrated into Schaap’s groundwater from foams used in firefighting exercises on the military base.

“Schaap and his family, the letter said, should immediately stop drinking the water. Schaap, 54, is a third-generation dairy farmer [and] has been raising cows and crops here since 1992. Air Force officials told him they’d supply his family with bottled water. But he wondered about his cows.

‘Milk is 90% water,’ he thought. ‘It kind of hit me like a rock,’ he recalled in a recent interview, ‘that my cows are drinking this polluted water.’

“Testing by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture showed that his milk was contaminated at levels 70 times above a federal advisory health limit for PFAS. The compounds are often called ‘forever chemicals’ because they don’t break down and instead accumulate over time in the environment and the bodies of animals and humans.

“When Schaap found out his water was polluted, neither the state Agriculture Department nor the Food and Drug Administration had a protocol for testing milk for PFAS — they developed a test expressly for his milk.

When Schaap sent his first samples to the Agriculture Department for testing, he made the decision to dump his milk in order to avoid selling a potentially contaminated product.

” ‘Schaap has since laid off 35 employees, and his 4,000 cows — not to mention his family’s health and livelihood — are in limbo. …

“Some Clovis dairy farmers have installed filtration systems on their wells, at a cost of about $260,000 per system, with yearly maintenance costs around $50,000. The Schaaps have not — the price is simply too high for the level of contamination in multiple wells, with no guarantee of adequate purification.

“The farmers say the contamination is an ‘existential threat’ not only to their livelihoods but to the region’s economic future. …

“The nonprofit Environmental Working Group estimates it has affected over 1,300 locations in 49 states, based on an analysis of state and federal records. That includes more than 400 military sites that used firefighting foam with PFAS compounds, according to the Pentagon. …

“A highly publicized case of PFAS contamination from a DuPont factory in West Virginia became the basis for the new Hollywood film ‘Dark Waters’ starring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway. But Schaap’s case, which the small nonprofit news outlet Searchlight New Mexico highlighted earlier [in 2019], is only the second known example of dairy contamination. …

“Linda Birnbaum, recently retired as director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said [she’d] like to see a larger array of foods surveyed from multiple communities across the country, and she noted that the tests measured just 16 PFAS compounds, leaving out the potential impact of thousands of more chemicals. …

“Given the uncertainty around federal PFAS limits for drinking water, several states are moving to create their own limits.”  More.

Happy to say my state is working on this issue. I hope yours is, too.

P.S. The above report was produced in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, a nonprofit investigative news organization.

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Photo: Joe Suarez for NPR
Las Cruces High School has one napping pod, which students use for 20 minutes when they are tired, stressed or angry.

In my family, we are big believers in naps. Long naps, short naps, any kind of nap. I don’t take a nap every day, but when I’m feeling exhausted for any reason, I find that 15 or 20 minutes of sleep really refreshes me.

Interestingly, 20 minutes is what teachers prescribe for students at Las Cruces High School in New Mexico.

Patti Neighmond reports at National Public Radio, “Studies have shown teenagers actually need between nine and 10 hours of sleep a night. But the vast majority (69 percent) aren’t getting it.

“Enter ‘napping pods.’ They’re essentially egg-shaped lounge chairs that recline, with a circular lid that can be pulled over the chest to shield against light.

“It just sort of envelops you in a really nice darkness, with soft lighting behind you,” says [18-year-old Hannah] Vanderkooy, a frequent user of the pods. She says she typically gets only four to five hours of sleep a night.” She’s a senior and working hard to get good grades and maybe college scholarships.

“There’s soft music playing in the pod and ‘you just feel extremely relaxed,’ she says. …

“A nap can’t substitute for a good night’s sleep, but it certainly can help, says Dr. Nitun Verma, a sleep specialist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

“A short nap for a teenager ‘can give a boost to memory and attention during the day, and it can increase school performance,’ he says, adding that in a perfect world, schools would roll back their start times. …

“Several public schools in New Mexico are trying to tackle the problem by providing napping pods for their students.

” ‘We know lack of sleep changes mood and makes you more anxious,’ says family nurse practitioner Linda Summers, who is an associate professor at New Mexico State University’s school of nursing in Las Cruces.

“Summers also works with the nearby Las Cruces High School health center, and has seen firsthand the effects of sleep deprivation on students there. So she decided to apply for a federal health grant to buy the pods, which, at the time, cost $14,000 each. They were installed in four high schools.

“And while the Las Cruces school napping pods were bought to remedy sleep deprivation, Summers says, ‘it also turns out to be good for anger and stress.’

“Even if kids don’t fall asleep, but simply ‘zone out,’ she says, they emerge saying they feel ‘refreshed and calm.’ ” More here.

Summers has conducted a study that has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal, so expect to hear more on this topic anon.

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Photo: Ken Shulman/OAG
Players for Naat’aanii, a team created for Navajo youth, practice in Farmington, New Mexico.

Now that Native Americans are playing major league baseball, it seemed like a good time for Bill Littlefield’s Only A Game radio show to do a story about Native American kids getting into the game. Ken Shulman traveled to New Mexico “to meet a Navajo team that uses tribal lore to train quality ballplayers.”

One of the people Shulman interviews is Dineh Benally, a youth baseball coach with teams in Farmington and Albuquerque.

“’Benally learned baseball as a kid on a reservation in Shiprock, where New Mexico borders with Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. The Four Corners was the Navajo ancestral home until 1864, when the tribe was forcibly marched to a desolate reservation 500 miles away.

“ ‘Baseball is about failure,’ Benally said. ‘And I think life is about failure. You’re gonna fail more than you succeed. …’

“Benally’s had his share of hardship. And failure. Growing up on the reservation was fun. But farm chores often kept him off the ball field. And when he did play, there wasn’t much in the way of coaching. Still, the tall right hander was MVP of his all-Navajo high school team. He pitched two years in junior college. Then he got a break: a chance to make the team at New Mexico State University — and to prove that a boy from the rez could play Division I ball. He threw well in tryouts but was cut on the final day. …

“It was tough not making the team. But Benally rallied. He thought about his ancestors on that long walk from Four Corners. And he thought about what he’d learned.

“A few years after graduation, in 1999, he started a youth team, to give Najavo kids the type of training he wishes he’d had growing up. He called the team ‘Naat’aanii,’ a word that … means leader. He scoured the state for native talent, boys born on and off the rez who he could shepherd toward college baseball and maybe even the pros. …

“Naat’aanii is no longer just for native players. Any kid can join if he has talent and desire. But the logo and rhythm and ethos are still Navajo. Dineh Benally wants his players to learn more than how to turn a double play. He wants them to tap into the tribal soul, to find the strength to stick it out when times get tough. Because they will get tough.

“ ‘That’s where they’ll show me if they’re really a true Naat’aanii,’ he said. …  They look at me. They know what I’m talking about.’ ”

More at Only a Game, here.

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Suzanne’s friend Sara, from Pomona College days, has a nice report on KUMN, the public broadcasting station in Albuquerque. It’s about Health Care for the Homeless — a program serving 7,500 people in the Albuquerque area — and in particular, it’s about a successful art therapy program. The story tends to confirm my observations earlier this week on the “Waste Land” documentary — namely, that art can open up the world for even the most disadvantaged.

Comments may be sent to suzannesmom@lunaandstella.com. I will post them.

Asakiyume comments: I, too, felt the resonance with the entry you had posted earlier about Wasteland. On the one hand, when someone tells me in passing about various unusual services for the homeless–like this one–I sometimes roll my eyes and get all practical minded (art? art? how about a PLACE TO LIVE and a JOB).  And yet, on the other hand, the chance to make art, to be “allowed” (as it were) to be a person who creates, and not merely someone desperate to survive, restores dignity and personhood and also, I’m thinking, a kind of autonomy. So yes: ART!

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