Human Remains Found at Transbay Terminal Site

Categories: Environment

Beth Laberge/Special to the S.F. Examiner
This morning, a routine construction job at the Transbay Transit Center revealed a major archaeological discovery. Workers filling concrete in the ground uncovered a human skeleton that the coroner later identified as Native American remains, according to the Transbay Joint Powers Agency.

The remains, which reportedly includes a skull and a thigh bone, are currently in the protection of the Native American Heritage Commission, which will identify a probable relative.

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San Francisco Overrun with Bloodsuckers (and Ticks)

If you're looking for a silver lining to being priced out of San Francisco, fleeing the Bay Area writ large, and taking up residence in uber-affordable Cleveland, here it is: This place is crawling with lethal blood-suckers

A study in the pending issue of  Emerging Infectious Disease (not a palatable journal title) reveals that researchers found ticks carrying the pathogens producing Lyme Disease in "all 12 sites from which tick sample sizes exceeded 30." This is not a comforting thought: Lyme Disease-producing beasties are widespread, and ... tick samples exceeding 30. Egad! 

If you thought it was impossible to catch Lyme Disease in California, you thought wrong. But, again going with the silver-lining motif, now some techie that priced you out of your home is gonna get it. Not you. 

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San Francisco's Anti-Smoking Laws Are Working, Study Confirms

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for cigarette.jpg
The American Lung Association's annual tobacco report was released today, showing that, once again, San Francisco is leading the way in fostering a smoke-free city.

Serena Chen, regional advocacy director for the American Lung Association, says that out of the 10 most populous cities in the state, Oakland and San Francisco are the only cities with a "B" ranking. The remaining cities held "C's" "D's" or "F's". Graded on its efforts in reducing tobacco sales and promoting smoke-free environments, the report suggests that the new smoke-free outdoor spaces and housing laws passed this year have helped to make the city healthier.

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San Francisco Turns Christmas Into Renewable Energy

Categories: Environment

Flickr/kara brugman
Just think of how many iPods this could charge
San Francisco might be batshit crazy, but we're definitely not stupid.

The point being this: We take renewable energy as seriously as we take mistletoe drones.

So starting this week, San Francisco's Recology will begin collecting your used and sad Christmas trees which will be recycled and reused to power all those unnecessary gadgets you got for Christmas.

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Franciscan Manzanita Gets Its Official Critical Habitat Designation

Categories: Environment

California Academy of Sciences
A botanical miracle.
When biologist Daniel Gluesenkamp found a patch of Franciscan manzanita -- a native San Francisco shrub long thought to be extinct -- lying, like a long-lost Sleeping Beauty, on a Caltrans construction site in the Presidio, he had no way of predicting that the plant would become a political football.

Gluesenkamp's discovery was, by all measures, a miracle. The bell-flowered shrub had languished on an extinct species list since 1947; finding one amid a pile of steel and rebar was a bit like rescuing a unicorn from a minotaur's mouth.

Native plant experts were so exultant that they persuaded the San Francisco County Transportation Authority to shell out some $200,000 to unearth and transplant the giant bush. Then a high-profile lawyer among their ranks, Brent Plater, sued U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to get it listed as an endangered species. He won handily.

And now Plater, et. al. are celebrating their next milestone: the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife just announced its final "critical habitat" locales where the shrub can be reintroduced to its natural environment. They include five areas within the Presidio Trust and six areas of parkland -- including the hotly contested terrain on Mt. Davidson. That incited protests from locals who worried that vast swaths of public space would be closed for years.

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Highways, Development Pollute San Franciscans' Lungs, Mission Is Unhealthiest Hood

Mike Koozmin
Bad Breathe In
Every day may as well be a Spare the Air day.

A few key congested roadways help make lung problems -- including cancer and Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- along with heart disease the chief long-term health problems in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, according to a new review of what makes American cities sick.

While MIT's report on Health and Urbanism finds San Franciscans healthier than most folks in Atlanta, Chicago or New York City, riding bikes and taking transit no further than 1.5 miles away from a big-time road means the C&C of SF mean the most densely populated county in the Bay Area may be its unhealthiest.

Obesity and diabetes clock in as the worst worries in most other cities, which means that they can at least run off their problems -- we can't move highways or densely packed blocks.

And the worst neighborhood for "health outcomes"? It may surprise you (and all its fixies, too).

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HBO Documentary Toxic Hot Seat Details Why So Many S.F. Firefighters Are Getting Cancer

Categories: Environment

Toxic Hot Seat
Ever wonder if flame retardant chemicals really slow flames? Light a sofa cushion on fire and see what happens. On second thought, don't. Just trust us when we say it'll burn.

Believe it or not, studies show that these fire prevention chemicals, which don't actually prevent fires, are linked to cancer, low I.Q.'s, birth defects and other illness. The kicker: Most states require these chemicals to be sprayed on flammable objects as a safety measure, and you can thank tobacco companies for this.

Fine. Don't believe us. Just watch HBO tonight for the premiere of Toxic Hot Seat, a documentary that follows the efforts of journalist, parents and activists to expose the hazards of chemical flame retardants and remove them from clothing and furniture.

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Diseased Starfish Disintegrating Along the West Coast

Categories: Environment, WTF?

Pretty ... pretty sick
Starfish -- the marine animal that is actually not a fish -- are mysteriously meeting their death along the West Coast in frequent numbers, and marine scientists are aren't sure who or what to blame.

According to the Press Democrat, mangled starfish are popping up from Alaska to Southern California, sickened by a disease that causes them to lose their arms and disintegrate.

"They essentially melt in front of you," Pete Raimondi, chairman of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of California, Santa Cruz's Long Marine Lab, told The Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

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Rim Fire Recovery Campaign Launched to Help Restore the Tuolumne River Watershed

Categories: Environment

Youtube/Tuolumne River Trust
Pretty ... pretty ruined.
The Rim Fire that burned through one of the prettiest parts of California is now 80 percent contained, yet 96 percent Tuolumne River Watershed -- home to rafters, wildlife, and tourist attractions -- has been ruined. But it's time to quit your mourning and start helping to rebuild this scenic landmark.

The Tuolumne River Trust, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that works to protect the watershed area near Yosemite National Park, is giving you that opportunity with its Rim Fire Recovery Campaign launched yesterday. The plan is to gather up volunteers, money, and resources from the feds to help restore the Tuolumne River to some level of normalcy.

Here's how the nonprofit explains it:

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New App Allows You to Sell Your Leftover Dinner to Your Neighbors

Just when we thought the sharing economy couldn't get any hungrier, a new app has launched, allowing enterprising San Franciscans whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs to sell the food right off their plates.

In other words, you can gorge yourself at Mission Chinese and then turn that Tiki pork belly into digital dimes.

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