Neal Heffron with his daughter and Lyme-stricken dog, Dani.

Lyme-infected dogs: 95 percent never develop symptoms; no such luck for Dani

That dogs are enormously susceptible to the ravages of ticks is no surprise, but there is uncertainty over just how many dogs that are bitten by ticks end up as sick as Dani, and why. Canine veterinarians and researchers who study Lyme disease in animals often cite the statistic that 95 percent of dogs exposed to Lyme never show symptoms, even though a screening test may turn up positive. Continue Reading

Thomas Mather, of the University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center, holds ticks gathered in the woods in South Kingstown, RI in November 2012. The ticks are adult stage blacklegged (deer) ticks.

Despite spread of Lyme disease, Mass. dedicates no money to prevention

Ticks and Lyme have spread across Massachusetts in the past 40 years to become one of the region’s most commonly reported infectious diseases, yet the state’s public health priorities have not kept pace. Two years ago, a special state Lyme commission suggested a modest investment of less than $300,000 for a public education program, yet no money has been set aside, and the commission’s other specific recommendations – from promoting more awareness in the medical community to better disease surveillance – have not been adopted. Continue Reading

Dr. Michael F. Holick

Critics blast BU doctor for child abuse defense

A Boston University doctor with a history of butting heads with the establishment is irking child abuse specialists nationwide by testifying in defense of parents accused of maltreatment — claiming that a rare genetic disease, not parental wrongdoing, is leading to children’s bone fractures. Dr. Michael F. Holick’ testimony — currently at issue in a child abuse case in Maine — is prompting concern among pediatricians who say he has no scientific proof to back up his claims and is providing covers to potentially dangerous parents putting children further at risk. Continue Reading

The Birdseye plant, birthplace of the flash-freeze process, stood on a barrier beach in the center of “the Fort,” a historic neighborhood packed with marine industry in Gloucester, Mass. Torn down in the fall of 2014, it will be replaced by the Beauport Hotel. For the past century the plant was hit by Atlantic Ocean waves. Despite Massachusetts’ stance against development on barrier beaches like this, the state is providing $3 million for roads and other improvements around the controversial hotel development.

State pays millions to pave way for Gloucester hotel despite beach policy

On one of the grittiest stretches of the historic waterfront here, the peaks of the Beauport Hotel will soon rise above the truck noise and smell of fish. Yet when the last drop of water fills the rooftop swimming pool, the luxury hotel will be more than incongruous with the neighborhood theme. It will also stand as a challenge to even mild climate change predictions. For the past century, storms during high tide have flooded this neighborhood. In the next century, a two-foot rise in sea level, projected by an international consortium of scientists, would put the hotel’s property line underwater. Continue Reading

Lauren Owens-LEED-06-SW

In effort to be ‘green,’ property owners misuse coveted LEED designation

When Scott Hardin found a home four years ago for his real estate appraisal firm, The Appraiser Guy, at Woburn’s Trade Center 128, he was pleased to settle into the “green” building. Besides the convenient location on Route 128, the building was equipped with solar panels, low-flow toilets, and even bathroom towel dispensers that use smaller sheets of paper. The building’s advertised LEED credentials played a big part in Hardin’s decision to rent there. The LEED award – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – is the building industry standard for environmental and energy efficiency used worldwide and issued by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council. A bronze wall plaque in the lobby of the half-million-square-foot Trade Center, owned by Cummings Properties, features a USGBC logo. Continue Reading

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Should Taxpayers Pay for These Climate Casualties?

With few offshore barriers to curb a storm’s fury, Scituate is the front line in New England’s expensive, losing battle against the sea. The coastal town accounts for nearly 40 percent of Massachusetts’ homes and businesses that are so flood-prone the federal government calls them “severe repetitive loss” properties. Now a growing movement is underway to level the homes that cost taxpayers the most to keep dry. Watch the video above to find out more about how taxpayers could be on the line for these climate casualties. Continue Reading

Lauren Owens-NECIR-Scituate-12

As flood damage from storms swells, a growing, controversial call to buy out homeowners

Scituate is the front line in New England’s expensive, losing battle against the sea. With few offshore barriers to curb a storm’s fury, the coastal town accounts for nearly 40 percent of Massachusetts’ homes and businesses that are so flood-prone the federal government calls them “severe repetitive loss” properties. Now a growing movement is underway to level the homes that cost taxpayers the most to keep dry. The state Legislature in July set aside $20 million in a bond bill to begin a voluntary buyback for repeatedly damaged coastal homes and convert the land to recreational areas or wildlife refuges. Coastal legislators are urging new Governor Charlie Baker to tap into the fund in the wake of January’s blizzard. Continue Reading