U.S. Waters Polluted by 10 Million Tons of Dog Poop

U.S. Waters Polluted by 10 Million Tons of Dog Poop

The 78 million dogs living in the United States create 10 million tons of feces annually, polluting waterways and posing a threat to public health, according to a pet waste removal service asking Americans to pledge to scoop the poop this Earth Day.

Dog Waste Threatens Public Health

“Dog waste is an environmental pollutant. In 1991, it was placed in the same health category as oil and toxic chemicals by the Environmental Protection Agency,” explains Virginia-based pet waste removal company Doody Calls in a press release. “The longer dog waste stays on the ground, the greater a contamination becomes. Bacteria, worms and other parasites thrive in waste until it’s washed away into the water supply.”

USAToday reports that 40% of dog owners do not pick up their dog’s waste at all and all that waste pollutes waterways. Because scientists are able to track the origin of the fecal bacteria to the species that excreted it, we even know how much. One study showed as much as 90% of the fecal coliform in urban stormwater was of non-human origin, mostly dog.

In just a couple of days, 100 dogs can deposit enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay, and all  watershed areas within 20 miles of it,                     to swimming  and fishing. Officials in Seattle consider waste from the city’s million dogs to be a major pollution source of Puget Sound. Dogs have also been shown to be a major source of water contamination in Clearwater, FL; Arlington, VA; and Boise, ID.

So What’s a Responsible Dog Owner to Do?

If you live in Cambridge, MA, you can drop your dog’s leavings into methane digesters to power the lights in some parks. If you live in Jefferson County, CO, you can join the poop patrol to remind your neighbors that there is no dog poo fairy (seriously). For the rest of us, the Natural Resources Defense Council has the following recommendations:

  • First, you definitely should not let your dog’s droppings lay near water ways, curbs, or even in your yard. What you should do is . . .
  • Wrap it in a plastic bag (biodegradable, corn-derived, or regular) and put it in the trash (though not all municipalities allow this).
  • Flush it. Dog waste can be managed by most sewage treatment systems and some septic tanks. (Do not flush cat waste because the parasite Toxoplasma gondii can survive sewage treatment plants.)
  • Install an underground pet waste digester. Basically a septic tank just for your pet.
  • Bury it in your yard. Keep pet waste away from vegetable gardens, the water table, and streams and buried at least 5 inches deep. Always cover fresh waste with with dirt.
  • Hire a poop collection service. Services will patrol your yard for poop on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule.  What a service does with the waste will vary, but you won’t have to handle it yourself.

Related Reading

The Cool Way To Clean Up After Your Dog [Video]

Lights Powered by Dog Poop! (VIDEO)

NRDC Study Finds U.S. Beaches More Polluted Than Ever

Parental Leave – Read. Think. Act.

Bernie Sanders supports 12 weeks of paid family leave. Add your name if you agree. The United States is the only developed nation to not offer paid parental leave.Paid parental leave has long-term health and economic benefits. Add your name to support 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

The GOP’s King V Burwell “Fix”


Sen. Ron Johnson’s Bill Includes The Same Failed Conservative Proposals to Repeal The ACA

Before the end of the month, the Supreme Court will rule on King v. Burwell, a case you may have heard us talk about before. In the weeks leading up to the decision there have been many news stories about Republicans in Congress trying to come up with a way to escape political backlash if the court strips tax credits away from 6.4 million Americans. In light of their predicament, Senate Republicans have touted Sen. Ron Johnson’s health care bill as a compromise. While Johnson’s bill would extend tax credits for current enrollees through 2017, it includes many of the same tired proposals aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act that House Republicans have been voting on (unsuccessfully) for the last 5 years. For a detailed description of Johnson’s bill, check out CAP Action’s fact sheet. Here are the basics:

What the bill would do: Extend tax credits for existing enrollees through 2017.
Number of times the GOP has tried this: 0

This is the piece of the bill that has allowed for the whole thing to be marketed as a compromise. But the tax credit extension is limited to current enrollees—even in the state-based marketplaces that would otherwise be unaffected by the case. Preventing future enrollees from receiving premium tax credits would significantly curtail future enrollment in every state and reduce current enrollment over time, partially undoing the drop in uninsured that was made possible by the premium tax credits.

What the bill would do: Repeal the federal essential health benefits plans are required to cover.
Number of times the GOP has tried this: 1

This would increase the number of people who are underinsured, worsening access to services like maternity care that were often excluded from insurance plans before the ACA.

What the bill would do: Undermine the ACA’s consumer protections.
Number of times the GOP has tried this: 2

Some pre-existing plans that don’t meet the ACA’s standards were grandfathered in to minimize disruption for enrollees. The Johnson bill would expand this provision, creating a huge loophole for many of the law’s consumer protections, including discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.

What the bill would do: Repeal the employer mandate.
Number of times the GOP has tried this: 3

The mandate that requires employers of 50 or more workers to provide insurance to their employees has not even gone into full effect, but that hasn’t stopped conservatives in Congress from attacking it.

What the bill would do: Repeal the Individual mandate.
Number of times the GOP has tried this: 6

Repealing the individual mandate would cause a large drop in the number of young and healthy people who enroll or stay enrolled in the future, driving up premium costs and creating a death spiral in the individual market.

While Johnson’s bill doesn’t explicitly call for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, repealing these essential pillars of the law would render it ineffective. And for the record, when you combine these votes with the 13 times House Republicans have voted to repeal or defund the entire Affordable Care Act, including these provisions, that makes 25 times that House Republicans have already voted on the Johnson bill’s failed repeal proposals. Overall, they have tried to undermine the law more than 50 times. The result of Johnson’s bill would be an increase in the uninsured rate, higher costs in the individual market, and weakened consumer protections.

BOTTOM LINE: Instead of coming up with a serious proposal to fix the chaos that could come out of a ruling against the ACA, congressional Republicans are attempting to use the chaos for their own political gain by repackaging their old, damaging proposals under the guise of compromise.

The Confederate flag needs to go

Emblems of hate and institutionalized racism should never be symbols in a democracy. After this week’s massacre of innocents in Charleston, SC, it’s time to take down the Confederate flag once and for all, in South Carolina and across the entire American South. Sign & spread the word!


Make Food Safety Part of Your Father’s Day


Still looking for a Father’s Day gift? Consider getting a food thermometer, perfect for safe grilling during the warm months.

When using a food thermometer, remember these three easy steps to cook like a PRO:

1. Place the thermometer

2. Read the temperature

3. Off the Grill!

Read more about how to cook like a PRO.