Dead Fish and Birds Poisoned by Formaldehyde Gas Emissions

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
January 12, 2011

Since the alarming death of thousands of birds, geese, fish, bats and frogs began, theories have been as numerous as theMass bird death number of places these animals appeared dead.  With every new place, a new theory emerged.  (See locations where animals were found dead)  It is logical to think that due to the fact animals appear dead in places as far away from each other as Costa Rica and Europe, there has got to be a different explanation for each mass death.  However, why couldn’t it be quite the opposite?  Couldn’t there be a common cause for the death of those animals?  Or perhaps, most of those cases?

What could be the trigger of mass animal death in almost all seven continents?  As I began to think about it, I thought it had to be something that could exist in all those places and that could be carried though each of those locations in the same manner, with the ability or potential to expand rapidly, homogeneously, massively.  Then I thought about the air we breath.  Humans are exposed to hundreds of contaminants on a daily basis.  We don’t die as the birds and other small animals did because we are larger animals, with more advanced respiratory systems that have the capacity to filter impurities.  So it takes longer for us to be affected when poisoned with small amounts of contaminants in the air.

Take for example smog.  We walk around towns and large cities where thousands of cars, buses and trucks circulate daily releasing smog through their exhaust pipes.  However we do not fall dead immediately.  It requires more than that to kill us quickly.  But with birds, fish, bats, frogs and geese, the amounts and concentrations required are smaller, much smaller.  In order for mass deaths like this to happen, animals need to be either exposed to the cause continuously for a long period of time, or to a high dose for a short period.  Either way, the result would be the same: death.

It is important to note that strange mass animal deaths such as the ones seen in Arkansas, Brazil, Florida, New Zealand, Haiti and other places did not begin recently.  The media has only reported on it now, but it began at least a decade ago.  First major mass deaths were reported by Graduate student Karen Lips who spent two years studying Golden Frogs in the jungles of Talamanca, Costa Rica.  Pathologist couldn’t determine the cause of death.  Ms. Lips returned to Central America later, this time to western Panama, where after a while, frogs also start dying.  For the second time, pathologists could not determine what caused the death of the frogs.

The trend became more alarming when researchers found out the frogs were not only dying in Central America, but also in the United States and elsewhere in the world. (See a chronology of the current mass deaths of animals here)

So what is that ‘trigger’ of death that could be present almost everywhere those birds, fish and frogs have appeared dead?  Let’s think about a gas.  Let’s think about a gas whose properties allows it to travel from the ground up and vice versa as well as from continent to continent or hemisphere to hemisphere.  How about one that could exist or that due to chemical reactions appear everywhere, even in the coldest or warmest places.

As The Real Agenda informed readers, it has been reported by (Kvenvolden and Rogers, 2005; Solomon, Susan et al., 2010; Blake and Rowland, 1988: Bousquet, P. et al.,2006; Chandler, David 2008) that the presence of methane gas in the atmosphere increased continuously, tripling over the past 300 years.  Researcher Andrea Silverthorne asked NASA’s David Rind about the existence and consequences of water vapor – an oxidant of methane gas- in the atmosphere.  Rind had written an article on his concerns about water vapour’s rise in our atmosphere back in 1998.  During an e-mail exchange with Mr. Rind, Silverthorne posed the question on whether the BP oil spill had increased gas emissions, but Rind refused to answer on anything that could relate the oil spill to the release of gases into the air.

methane coming from oceans

Keith Kvenvolden, a former USGS, retired employee, wrote a paper in 2004 about the gigantic amounts of methane coming from the ocean floor in places where where petroleum was extracted.  Published on the Marine and Petroleum Geology Journal, Kvenvolden points to observations of “the ‘world’s most spectacular marine hydrocarbon seeps off Coal Oil Point, California”.  The paper also details methane seepage out of mud volcanoes in areas where petroleum reserves are located.  These are formed by mud, water and methane gas.

According to an investigation conducted by researcher Andrea Silverthorne, “Methane gas oxidizes in the atmosphere first to a transitory toxic substance call methanol and then moves to formaldehyde and water vapor. Both are very dangerous gases, because formaldehyde is toxic, and water vapor traps heat.” Silverthorne cites a report published in Science Daily, about methane levels increasing by 27 million tons in 2007 (European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).

Further research on the existence and influence of methane in the atmosphere, conducted by Kelly Chance and Thomas P. Kurosu, of the Harvard- Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, revealed that “formaldehyde levels in the atmosphere were consistent with ground levels, and that they were highest in the summer in hotter areas”.   Formaldehyde is one of the heaviest gases out there, and it is the product of methane oxidation at high levels.  “Methane gas is lighter and is usually located in areas where it turns cooler. Once the oxidation is complete, the gas falls to earth because it is so much heavier,” writes Silverthorne.

Researchers Chance and Kurosu attribute increasing formaldehyde levels to methane oxidation, although they hink such increase is due to the presence of isoprene exhaled by trees, as it too oxidizes to formaldehyde.

In 2000, scientists in Greenland who measured air/gas exchange for formaldehyde and hydrogen peroxide, discovered that formaldehyde remained at rest during the night hours and began oxidizing during the day, as soon as the sun appeared at dawn.  In 2003 and 2004, scientists returned to Greenland to look at earlier spring and mid summer levels.  They found out that the warmer it got the higher the release of formaldehyde was into the air.

But high concentrations of formaldehyde do not limit themselves to air.  In 2006, scientists working in Turkey, who had Mass fish deathstudied formaldehyde levels in water, reported they found formaldehyde in liquid deposits as well as snow. “Wet deposit may be a significant source of HCHO to aquatic systems since concentrations in rainwater are expected to be higher than in surface waters”.  Their revelations noted that formaldehyde goes from water to the air and back. After it returns to the water, it forms methane diol (formalin), the toxic preservative used in laboratories. Their report went further to say that wind decreased deposition rates while humidity increased them. Scientists suggested further study of HCHO degradation in water.

So how would formaldehyde affect a bird, frog, fish or goose? According to researcher Andrea Silverthorne: “Even in low levels formaldehyde causes immune reactions. As levels go higher it can cause hypothermia, asphyxiation, and ultimately acidosis, which literally eats you from the inside out.”  This description matches what scientists have been describing in almost all cases where birds, geese, bats and other small animals have died mysteriously.  She goes on to say that: “formaldehyde ingested through water is the worst form of poisoning. Bats drink water in dark caves.  Frogs probably also drink water in their natural environment and so do birds.  Fish would probably be the first and most affected creatures in an environment poisoned with formaldehyde, because they live every second of their lives inside the water.

Wouldn’t animals and fish have the ability to smell the formaldehyde and run for their lives?  According to a study done by the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) for the United Nations, formaldehyde does not smell until it reaches 3ppm. Studies made in Brazil -one of the location affected by mass fish death- revealed that concentrations as low as 1.25 ppm, well below the countries legal limit, caused breath impairment.  Other studies completed earlier than the one in Brazil, determined that formaldehyde in water reduces oxygen levels. (Morgan, Kevin T. 1984).  Apparently, methane seeps in ocean water -as described by Kvenvolden – oxidizing too.

So, we have the plausible origin and presence of optimum concentrations.  Don’t we need somehow that dangerous levels existed everywhere to cause mass deaths such as the ones we’ve witnessed?  Gases travel easily across the planet through wind patterns.  High local concentrations or moving columns of formaldehyde around the planet would be effective to cause mass animal deaths.  According to the report by the International Programme on Chemical Safety:

Formaldehyde is naturally formed in the troposphere during the oxidation of hydrocarbons. These react with OH radicals and ozone to form formaldehyde and/or other aldehydes as intermediates in a series of reactions that ultimately lead to the formation of carbon monoxide and dioxide, hydrogen, and water (Zimmermann et al., 1978; Calvert, 1980).

Of the hydrocarbons found in the troposphere, methane occurs in the highest concentration (1.18 mg/m in the northern hemisphere. Thus, it provides the single most important source of formaldehyde (Lowe et al., 1981).

To this statement we can add Silverthorne’s information that methane has a 9 year shelf life, so the current mass death of animals could go for as long as 9 years.

The BP gas spill, combined with already high levels -it was probably worse in Arkansas because you have methane seeps going on there from the seismic activity- making it worse.   Methane does go south through the water even though it takes a very long time to mix south through the air, and methane migrates back and forth to the poles every summer, so it will, in our hemisphere, move north,  most likely over the Midwest and India, although the great excess is changing wind current patterns.

In her research paper published on The Real Agenda, Andrea Silverthorne also presents the case of the bee mass disappearance that became relevant for the main stream media only months ago.  She writes: “bees are succumbing to parasites and virus where before they were not, and bees are susceptible to acidosis; they go through it safely in the larva stage. That is why there are no bee bodies to find, in all probability. They may have been literally dissolved with acid, from acidosis created by high formaldehyde levels.

Scientist K.-U Goss, presented a report about the Air/Surface Adsorption Equilibrium of Organic Compounds Under Ambient Conditions in 2004, which raised the question of whether all of us, especially infants who play or run around the floor or on the snow, where heavy formaldehyde gas rests, are exposed 365 days a year to this toxic silent killer.  He goes further to ask if when people open their houses’ windows formaldehyde gas enters the homes and drops to the floor for the summer and then winter too. Goss’ report also reveals that formaldehyde has the ability to adsorb to soil, which means we could be facing deadly soil contamination as well.  Laboratories had to discontinue use of formalin for that very reason; they could not get rid of the gas lying low on the floor as ventilation is designed to eliminate lighter gases.

Are world governments conducting studies to test formaldehyde levels in soil, snow, fog, frost, dew, rivers, lakes, ponds, streams . . . and seas — both at night and during the day?  Are scientists focusing on the existence of toxic formaldehyde in the air, given that it can cause animal and certainly human poisoning in such minute concentrations?  Is formaldehyde gas in the air, water and snow the explanation no one has looked into for the mass death of birds, fish, bats and frogs? (Most media attribute it to fireworks, storms and space clouds.  None of which explains the destruction of internal organs and tissues.  Formaldehyde poisoning does.).

Let me close with some of Ms. Silverthorne’s important assertions:

Formaldehyde, like water, seeks its own level, rising higher and higher until it floods the lungs of all living breathing life, maintaining a level of .29 ppm, so we never smell it, but die from chronic exposure.

Extinction by formaldehyde gas would explain why small animals die first as a group and then larger ones die— as a group.

Is this why our children, who hang out closer to the floor, play outside and sit on the snow and ground more, are experiencing dramatically increasing immune and allergen disorders?

But more important than any question we can raise is the fact none of us animals can escape a gas that circulates in the air, descends to the ground at night and goes right back up during the day.  We need to breathe in order to live.  When will humans time come to die as a group?

For a complete list of scientific sources used in this article, please click this link.