Environmental Health in the News . . .

27 August 2014

Uncontrolled Trash Burning Significantly Worsens Air Pollution
From: UCAR AtmosNews
Unregulated trash burning around the globe is pumping far more pollution into the atmosphere than shown by official records. A new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research estimates that more than 40 percent of the world's garbage is burned in such fires, emitting gases and particles that can substantially affect human health and climate change.

22 August 2014

Fracking's Chemical Cocktails
From: Tim Radford, The Ecologist
Fracking is once again in trouble. Scientists have found that what gets pumped into hydrocarbon-rich rock as part of the hydraulic fracture technique to release gas and oil trapped in underground reservoirs may not be entirely healthy.

18 August 2014

Toxic Algae Scare Prompts Backlash Against Farms
From: S.E. Smith, Care2
What do a no-drink order in Toledo and a backlash against factory farming have in common? A lot, as it turns out. Residents of Ohio's fourth-largest city were advised for multiple days earlier this month to refrain from drinking their tap water because it had been contaminated by toxic algae. As residents struggled to deal with their contaminated water supply, the culprit behind the problem became readily apparent: factory farms. The Ohio Agriculture Advisory Council (OAAC) is proposing a regulatory crackdown that could forever change industrial farming practices in this Midwestern state.

Update: Ebola virus in Africa, Middle East
From: Maurice Picow, Green Prophet
The deadly Ebola virus is spreading rapidly in West Africa and the main concern is its spread from its point of origin and be carried possibly to other countries, including the Middle East. With the death toll rapidly nearing the 1,000 mark, West Africa’s latest Ebola virus epidemic is already the worst outbreak of its kind to occur according to the World Health Organization and other international public health bodies.

31 July 2014

Importance of Air Quality and Employee Productivity
From: RP Siegel, Triple Pundit
A number of credible studies have shown that indoor air quality can have a significant effect on employee productivity. And we're not just talking about air that's so bad that you can't see or breathe. Generally speaking, OSHA takes cares of those (though I could tell you a story about an agricultural processing job I once worked in Arkansas). What we're talking about here is much more subtle than that.

29 Jjuly 2014

Ozone and rising temperatures combined will affect food security
From: Editor, ENN
A new study shows that interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution can be quite significant when it comes to addressing food security.

18 July 2014

New Insect Repellent Graphic Released by EPA
From: US EPA Newsroom
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today unveiled a new graphic that will be available to appear on insect repellent product labels. The graphic will show consumers how many hours a product will repel mosquitoes and/or ticks when used as directed.

17 July 2014

Aura's Ten Year Mission Improves our Understanding of Ozone
From: Editor, ENN
The mission of Aura, which is Latin for breeze, centers on obtaining measurements of ozone, aerosols and key gases throughout the atmosphere. And after one decade in space, the satellite has provided vital data about the cause, concentrations and impact of major air pollutants.

Scientists launch campaign to detail front range air pollution
From: NCAR/UCAR
Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and partner organizations are launching a major field project across the northern Front Range of Colorado this month to track the origins of summertime ozone, an invisible but harmful pollutant. The researchers will use specially equipped aircraft, mobile radars, balloon-mounted sensors, and sophisticated computer simulations to measure local and far-flung pollution sources. Results from the month-long study will provide needed information to officials seeking to ensure that air in the region is healthy to breathe.

15 July 2014

Drought Conditions Linked to Human Activity
From: ClickGreen Staff
US Government scientists have developed a new high-resolution climate model that shows southwestern Australia's long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall is caused by increases in manmade greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion.

11 July 2014

Record Radiation in South America
From: Winfield Winter, ENN
Astrobiologists from the United States and Germany recorded the highest known level of solar UV radiation to reach Earth's surface. This was around 10 years ago. On December 29, 2003, the UV Index (UVI) peaked, reaching the blistering number of 43.3 over the Andes Mountains in Bolivia. To put this in context, a beachgoer in the United States would expect a UVI of 8 or 9 on a summer day. Even with an 8 or a 9, one may not escape the day without sunburn.

2014 Natural Disaster Damage and Death Toll Well Below Average
From: ClickGreen Staff
Extreme weather events and other natural disasters claimed the lives of more than 2,700 people and caused around US $42 billion in damage worldwide in the first half of 2014, but this was well below the first half of last year and a 10-year average, according to new research from reinsurer Munich Re.

10 July 2014

New Study Quantifies Causes of the "Urban Heat Island" Effect
From: Kevin Dennehy, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
A new Yale-led study quantifies for the first time the primary causes of the "urban heat island" (UHI) effect, a common phenomenon that makes the world's urban areas significantly warmer than surrounding countryside and may increase health risks for city residents.

9 July 2014

Climate Change Decadal Pause Study — Accidental Climate Mitigation
From: Professor Jesse Thé, ENN and Professor Roydon Fraser, University of Waterloo
Professors Jesse Thé and Roydon Fraser from the University of Waterloo are initiating a study on the potential cause of the decade long pause on global warming. This is an interview with Prof. Thé, as a disclosure is also ENN’s Editor-in-Chief. .

2 July 2014

EPA Proposes New Standards for Landfills, Hopes to Reduce Methane Emissions
From: US EPA Newsroom
As part of the President's Climate Action Plan — Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing updates to its air standards for new municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. These updates would require certain landfills to capture additional landfill gas, which would reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and help further reduce pollution that harms public health.

1 July 2014

Oklahoma and Earthquakes - Is Fracking to Blame?
From: Kevin Mathews, Care2,
Which state is the current earthquake capital of the United States? If you guessed California, your data is sadly out of date. Believe it or not, Oklahoma, the new center of quivering land, has twice as many earthquakes as California does at this point. We're not just talking minor shaking, either. Oklahoma averages one earthquake that measures at least 3.0 on the Richter scale every single day.

30 June 2014

Why can't we recover precious metals from landfills?
From: CleanTechies
Mining for precious metals like gold, silver, and copper is extremely costly. Not only does it require a huge amount of energy and have a devastating impact on the environment, it also puts human life at risk.

23 June 2014

Study links pesticides and pregnancies with increased risk of autism
From: ClickGreen Staff
Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay, according to a new study.

18 June 2014

President Obama addresses seafood fraud and illegal fishing
From: Jen Boynton, Triple Pundit
This morning, President Barack Obama announced an initiative to tackle seafood fraud and illegal fishing in the United States. His announcement coincides with the Global "Our Ocean" conference convened by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. In President Obama's announcement, he referenced the negative financial repercussions of overfishing as one of the key reasons for the initiative.

UCLA students create website to inform on toxic emissions
From: UCLA Newsroom
A team of seven UCLA environmental science students has created a website that shows how emissions from local factories are impacting air quality in Los Angeles County. Cal EcoMaps, launched this month, features an interactive map with detailed information about 172 facilities representing the top four emitting industries — petroleum, primary metals, fabricated metals and chemical production.

10 June 2014

FDA and EPA issue updated draft advice for fish consumption
From: US EPA Newsroom
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued updated draft advice on fish consumption. The two agencies have concluded pregnant and breastfeeding women, those who might become pregnant, and young children should eat more fish that is lower in mercury in order to gain important developmental and health benefits. The updated draft advice is consistent with recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

5 June 2014

Climate change and nutrition
From: Karin Kloosterman, GreenProphet
Researchers now say in a revealing Nature paper that the most significant health threat from climate change has started to happen. Crops that provide a large share of the global population with most of their dietary zinc and iron will have significantly reduced concentrations of those nutrients at the elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 anticipated by around 2050, according to research by Israeli scientists published in Nature this month.

2 June 2014

Lyme disease is older than the human race
From: Oregon State University
Lyme disease is a stealthy, often misdiagnosed disease that was only recognized about 40 years ago, but new discoveries of ticks fossilized in amber show that the bacteria which cause it may have been lurking around for 15 million years — long before any humans walked on Earth.

30 May 2014

Airport pollution worse than the freeways in LA?
From: Click Green Staff
A new study has found that heavy airplane traffic contributes to even more pollution to the skies above Los Angeles than the city’s congested freeways. And the research results, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, revealed the effect continues for up to 10 miles away.

29 May 2014

Trawling: destructive fishing method is turning sea floors to 'deserts'
From: Morgan Erickson-Davis, MONGABAY.COM
Bottom trawling is a practice used by commercial fisheries around the world in which a large, heavy net is dragged along the ocean floor to scoop up everything in its path. Previous research has linked trawling to significant environmental impacts, such as the harvest of large numbers of non-target species, collectively termed "by catch," as well as destruction of shallow seabeds. Now, a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds this method is also resulting in long-term, far-reaching consequences in the deeper ocean and beyond.

28 May 2014

April Ties For Warmest on Record
From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Globally, this April was a scorcher, tying with 2010 for the warmest April on record, according to new data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week. This makes 2014, to date, the sixth warmest year on record going back to 1880 when comparing the first four months. However, if an El Nino event strikes this summer or fall—as seems increasingly likely—global temperatures could rise even more.

23 May 2014

Fungi Clean Contaminated Soil
From: The Ecologist
A new system for cleaning soils contaminated with industrial toxins harnesses the power of White rot - a common fungus that decays fallen wood in forests. Research in Finland shows it can also destroy dioxins and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons.

Climate change threatens US landmarks
From: ClickGreen Staff
The growing consequences of climate change are putting more than two dozen of the most iconic and historic sites in the US at risk, according to a new report. From Ellis Island to the Everglades, Cape Canaveral to California's César Chávez National Monument, a lengthy list of treasured sites is being threatened by the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and fires.

20 May 2014

"State of the Air 2014" Shows Half the U.S. Lives with Unhealthy Air
From: American Lung Association
Nearly half of all Americans — more than 147 million — live in counties in the U.S. where ozone or particle pollutions levels make the air unhealthy to breathe, according to the American Lung Association's "State of the Air 2014" report released today. The 15th annual national report card shows that while the nation overall continued to reduce particle pollution, a pollutant recently found to cause lung cancer, poor air quality remains a significant public health concern and a changing climate threatens to make it harder to protect human health. Especially alarming is that levels of ozone (smog), a powerful respiratory irritant and the most widespread air pollutant, were much worse than in the previous year's report.

13 May 2014

India, not China, has the world's worst urban air pollution
From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM,
Breathing in urban India is hard: of the world's top twenty cities with the worst air, 13 of them are found in India, according to a new analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO). Despite the attention recently given to Chinese cities for atrocious air pollution, many of India's cities are actually worse when comparing annual averages of fine airborne particulates.

12 May 20014

GM food and toxic herbicides
From: Pat Thomas, The Ecologist
GM crops that resist herbicides are bringing ever higher levels of toxic chemical residues to our food, even mothers' milk, writes Pat Thomas. As the 'endocrine disrupting' effects take place at minute concentrations, there is only one answer - to keep the herbicides off all food crops.

8 May 2014

Predicting red tide blooms with ESP
From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
Red tide poisoning is an aquatic phenomenon caused by a rapid increase/accumulation in the water column of reddish colored algal bloom (large concentrations of aquatic microorganisms) comprising a few species of toxic dinoflagellates. Forecasting the phenomenon has been critical for coastal communities. This year though, WHOI is introducing a new tool called Environmental Sample Processors (ESP) to measure bloom concentration and associative toxins for real-time reporting to land based researchers.

7 May 2014

In search of safe drinking water
From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
Access to safe drinking water is a fundamental requirement for good health and is also a human right. WHO and UNICEF’s indicator is based upon the "use of an improved source". The authors of a recent study into water contamination postulated that this did not account for water quality measurements or monitor global access to safe drinking water. Researchers Robert Bain and Jamie Bartram from The Water Institute at University of North Carolina sought to determine whether water from "improved" sources is less likely to contain fecal contamination than "unimproved" sources and to assess the extent to which contamination varies by source type and setting.

6 May 2014

U.S. climate report says global warming impact already severe
By Darryl Fears, Washington Post
The government’s newest national assessment of climate change, released early Tuesday, declares what a wide majority of scientists say is clear: Americans are already feeling the effects of global warming.

U.S. Federal Government Amps Up E-Waste Reuse and Recycling
From: Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit
The U.S. federal government is the nation's largest consumer and disposer of electronics. Considering the number of federal employees—about 2.7 million at last count, not including the military or courts—U.S. government employees contribute a massive portion to the approximate 2.4 million tons of electronic waste, or e-waste, that is discarded annually. Not only are those monitors, printers, cell phones and all those peripherals leeching chemicals into soil and water supplies, government (as well as companies) leave money on the table thanks to all of those rare earth minerals allowing them to function in the first place.

2 May 2014

"Close the door to landfilling." says the European Commission's Director-General for Environment
From: Editor, ENN
In a passionate call for change, Karl Falkenberg, European Commission Director-General for Environment calls for a closure of landfilling, as we know it. "Separate collection is very much at the heart of this circular economy - [but] we are coming to realize that separate collection is not enough," said Falkenberg, the at a conference in Brussels on April 29th.

23 April 2014

Odds of storm waters flooding Manhattan up 20-fold, new study finds
From: ClickGreen staff,
Maximum water levels in New York harbor during major storms have risen by nearly two and a half feet since the mid-1800s, making the chances of water overtopping the Manhattan seawall now at least 20 times greater than they were 170 years ago, according to a new study.

15 April 2014

Weather throws a curve
From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
Apparently the intense curve of the jet stream can predict the variability of an entire season and it is becoming a pattern. Last winter's curvy jet stream in North America resulted in mild western temperatures and harsher cold temperatures in the east. University of Utah researchers reveal that a similar pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, suggesting that it may worsen as Earth's climate warms.

IPCC concludes: Renewable energy shift is a must
From: ENN Editor
Conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's are simple: rapid shifts to renewable energy are needed to avert catastrophic global warming. The IPCC's report was produced by 1250 international experts and approved by each major government in the world. The report documented increases in human-caused greenhouse gases, the source of those gases, and their climatic effect.

3 April 2014

Crib mattresses expose infants to harmful emissions
From: ENN Staff
University of Texas at Austin's Cockrell School of Engineering has found that crib mattresses expose sleeping infants to high levels of chemical emissions. Specifically, the team analyzed the foam padding from crib mattresses and found that the mattresses release significant amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are potentially harmful chemicals found in many household items including cleaners and scented sprays.

1 April 2014

'Extreme levels' of Roundup are the norm in GMO soya
From: Thomas Bøhn and Marek Cuhra, Ecologist
To accommodate high levels of Roundup residues in GM soya, limits were raised 200-fold - with no scientific justification and ignoring growing evidence of toxicity. What Monsanto calls 'extreme levels' are now the norm - but only in GM crops.

26 March 2014

Air pollution, now the world’s single largest environmental risk
From: ENN EditorThe World Health Organization today released mortality data from 2012 estimating that around 7 million people (one person in eight) died globally that year as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.

24 March 2014

Chernobyl: thirty years hence...
From: Rachel Nuwer/Smithsonian, Ecologist
It's not just people, animals and trees that suffer from radiation at Chernobyl, writes Rachel Nuwer, but also decomposer fungi and microbes. And with the buildup of dead wood comes the risk of catastrophic fire - which could spread radiation far and wide. Nearly 30 years have passed since the Chernobyl plant exploded and caused an unprecedented nuclear disaster. The effects of that catastrophe, however, are still felt today. Although no people live in the extensive exclusion zones around the epicenter, animals, trees and other plants still show signs of radiation poisoning.

21 March 2014

Floods in Britain: a sign of things to come?
From: ClickGreen Staff
A new investigation of long-term weather records suggests that the recent flooding in the south of England could signal the onset of climate change. The research, from UWE Bristol, Loughborough University and the University of East Anglia has produced a new index of flooding trends called the Fluvial Flood Indices. This enables widespread flooding and weather patterns to be viewed in the context of the last 150 years, revealing that four of the six most severe flood episodes since 1871 have occurred in the last 30 years.

20 March 2014

U.S. Public Transit Reports Record Ridership
From: Alexis Petru, Triple Pundit
Don't tell the public transit naysayers who maintain that Americans will never get out of their beloved automobiles: Americans took a record 10.7 billion trips on public transportation last year — the highest annual ridership number in 57 years, according to the 2013 ridership report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). In fact, public transit rides rose by 1.1 percent in 2013, while miles driven only increased 0.3 percent.

18 March 2014

Scientists develop system to filter water using plant sticks
From: Yao-Hua Law, SciDevNet
Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States are working with their counterparts in developing countries to produce an "economical and efficient" means of filtering out bacteria from water using plant xylem that normally transports water and nutrients from the soil.

14 March 2014

Warmer years linked to more malaria in tropical highlands
From: Pablo Correa, SciDevNet
[BOGOTA] People in densely populated highlands of Africa and South America — who have so far been protected from malaria by cooler temperatures — may be seeing more of the disease as the climate changes, according to a study in Science (6 March). Mountainous regions with relatively cold climates that are unsuitable for the malaria parasite and the mosquitoes that transmit — but there have been indications, for example from modelling studies, that with climate change this protection will wear off.

12 March 2014

Feral cats a growing health concern
From: Editor, ENN
A coalition of more than 200 groups which include various bird and wildlife conservation organizations and animal rights groups are calling on Secretary Sally Jewell of the Department of Interior to take action to reduce mortality to wildlife populations on public lands stemming from the nation's ever-increasing population of feral cats. The group brings evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that feral cats pose a threat to human health as a result of an exposure to rabies and toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease affecting the human brain when exposed to cat feces.

6 March 2014

New kind of wristband could help monitor environmental health
From: Allison Winter, ENN
Kim Anderson and colleagues note that people breathe, touch and ingest a mix of many substances at low levels every day. But figuring out if natural and synthetic compounds can lead to disease is difficult. Thousands of these compounds are in common consumer products and industrial processes, but not all of them have been tested for toxicity. Research suggests that there’s a link between some of these substances and human health problems. However, establishing cause and effect definitively requires long-term measurements.

5 March 2014

25 Million Pounds of Toxic Beads
From: Judy Molland, Care2
Will you be celebrating Mardi Gras today, or are you more concerned about the environmental and ethical impact of 250 million pounds of plastic beads imported from China? A Christian holiday with origins in Europe, Mardi Gras, meaning "Fat Tuesday" in French, is recognized as a day of indulgence before the beginning of the penitential season of Lent on Ash Wednesday. But there is a dark underside to the Mardi Gras festivities. Every year, an estimated 25 million pounds of plastic beads make their way to New Orleans. The beads are central to the ritualized gift exchanges of Mardi Gras season, a multi-day series of parties and parades that brings an estimated million revelers to the streets for what is sometimes called "the Greatest Free Show on Earth." Members of Mardi Gras "krewes," the private social organizations that stage the parades, spend thousands to purchase the shiny baubles before flinging them to crowds who beg for them with the exclamation, "Throw me something, mister!" These beads from China are made from toxic waste the U.S. ships off, and are likely to end up in the bodies, landfills and water supply of the citizens of New Orleans.

Clean Water Act protects Bristol Bay
From: Jessie Thomas-Blake, American Rivers
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that it is initiating a process under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to identify appropriate options to protect the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska, from the potentially destructive impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine!

4 March 2014

EPA Sets Cleaner Fuel and Car Standards
From: ENN Staff
Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized emission standards for cars and gasoline that will significantly reduce harmful pollution and in turn prevent thousands of premature deaths and illnesses related to respiratory ailments.

26 February 2014

Greener chemical cleanups
From: Marianne English Spoon, University of Wisconsin
Cleaning up oil spills and metal contaminants in a low-impact, sustainable and inexpensive manner remains a challenge for companies and governments globally. But a group of researchers at UW—Madison is examining alternative materials that can be modified to absorb oil and chemicals. If further developed, the technology may offer a cheaper and "greener" method to absorb oil and heavy metals from water and other surfaces.

89% of E-Waste Is Neglected Due To Mobile Phone Recycling Popularity
From: Click Green Staf
Despite the popularity of the mobile phone recycling industry, handsets only contribute towards a small percentage of the overall E-Waste accumulation. According to a study by the US US environmental Protection Agency only 11% of electronic waste is made up of mobile devices, the remaining 89% is computers, accessories, televisions and TV peripherals.

25 February 2014

China's looming water crisis
From: Joshua Bateman, The Ecologist
One unintended consequence of China's spectacular economic growth is a growing water shortage, reports Joshua Bateman. As rivers run dry, aquifers sink, climate harshens and pollution spreads, he asks: can China solve its water crisis?

Limitations of climate engineering
From: Jan Steffen, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research
Despite international agreements on climate protection and political declarations of intent, global greenhouse gas emissions have not decreased. On the contrary, they continue to increase. With a growing world population and significant industrialization in emerging markets such as India and China the emission trend reversal necessary to limit global warming seems to be unlikely. Therefore, large-scale methods to artificially slow down global warming are increasingly being discussed.

18 February 2014

Fracking residual waters
From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
As fracking amongst Marcellus Shale in the northeastern part of the United States increases so does the concern over its process. Fracking is done utilizing a hydraulic fracturing process, which pumps a high-pressure mixture of water, chemicals and sand deep into the sedimentary formations to extract naturally occurring gas. The resultant wastewater is then stored in large impoundment ponds and closed container tanks until it can be piped to wastewater treatment plants. Once cleaned it is discharged into local streams or trucked to Ohio to be pumped deep down into another injection well or into another fracking operation.

14 February 2014

Testing for environmental contaminants in wastewater biosolids
From: Ken Kingery, Duke University
Every year waste treatment facilities in the United States process more than eight million tons of semi-solid sewage called biosolids -- about half of which is recycled into fertilizer and spread on crop land. The practice helps solve storage issues and produces revenue to support the treatment plants, but what else is being spread in that sludge?

13 February 13 2014

More contaminant troubles for West Virginia
From: Judy Molland, Care2
On February 11, just one month after a chemical spill tainted drinking water for 300,000 people in and around the state's capital of Charleston, West Virginia experienced another environmental disaster: 100,000 gallons of coal slurry pour into stream.

11 February 2014

Climate Change and Human Health
From: Geordan Shannon, The Ecologist
Sea—level rises, changes to the severity of monsoon seasons and rainfall, flooding, droughts and heatwaves are all having an increasing impact on human health, writes Geordon Shannon.

5 February 2014

Study predicts $100 trillion a year in damage due to storm surges
From: Editor, The Ecologist
New research predicts that coastal regions face massive increases in damages from storm surge flooding over the 21st century - to $100 trillion annually, more than the world's entire economic product today.

Up to 82,000 Tons of Toxic Coal Ash Spilled Into North Carolina River
From: ThinkProgress, Care2
A stormwater pipe under an unlined coal ash pond at a shuttered plant in Eden, N.C., burst Sunday afternoon — draining tens of thousands of tons of coal ash into the Dan River. Duke Energy, which owns the Dan River Steam Station, retired since 2012, estimates that 50,000 to 82,000 tons of coal ash and up to 27 million gallons of water were released from the 27-acre storage pond.

Gas company to drill in Manu National Park buffer zone, imperiling indigenous people
From: David Hill, MONGABAY.COM,
The Peruvian government has approved plans for gas company Pluspetrol to move deeper into a supposedly protected reserve for indigenous peoples and the buffer zone of the Manu National Park in the Amazon rainforest. The approval follows the government rescinding a highly critical report on the potential impacts of the operations by the Culture Ministry (MINCU), the resignation of the Culture Minister and other Ministry personnel, and repeated criticism from Peruvian and international civil society.

30 January 2014

US Solar Employment Growing at 10 Times the National Average
From: Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit
When it comes to job creation, it appears that the U.S. economy has undergone radical change over the past couple of decades as the full extent of neoconservative economic, trade and tax policies, along with rapid technological change, have been more fully realized. Historically wide and growing disparities in wealth and income in developed and developing countries alike was a focal point of discussion for the world’s super-wealthy at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, while the need to create more and better jobs and economic opportunities for all Americans was the theme of President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address Tuesday evening.

29 January 2014

Okay, so maybe this next one isn't strictly an Environmental Health topic, but it is related.
Seahawks vs. Broncos: Sustainability Highlights for the Teams and Super Bowl XLVIII
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With the Seattle Seahawks getting ready to play the Denver Broncos this weekend in Super Bowl XLVIII, here at ENN, we are not only focused on the game, but we are also interested in the sustainability efforts of the stadiums and the teams. As for this year's Super Bowl, MetLife Stadium boasts that it is the first stadium in the world to earn the title of "Certified Green Restaurant" stadium from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA).

28 January 2014

Linking Alzheimer's to environmental contributors
From: Robin Lally, Rutgers University
Scientists have known for more than 40 years that the synthetic pesticide DDT is harmful to bird habitats and a threat to the environment. Now researchers at Rutgers University say exposure to DDT, banned in the United States since 1972 but still used as a pesticide in other countries, may also increase the risk and severity of Alzheimer's disease in some people, particularly those over the age of 60.

Update on the El Toro contamination clean up
From: Roger Greenway, ENN
The federal Superfund program seems to go on forever for many sites. So it is good news that a large portion of the contamination at the former EL Toro Marine Corps Air Station in Irvine, CA has been deemed remediated enough to be removed from the Superfund list.

24 January 2014

Emissions outsourced to China return to US as air pollution
From: Editor, MONGABAY.COM
Twenty percent of China's air pollution can be attributed to goods exported to America, with some of those emissions drifting back to the Western United States, finds a study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Biofuel crops 'may amplify mosquito-borne disease'
From: Wagdy Sawahel, SciDevNet
The expansion of the some biofuel crops may unwittingly increase the risk of mosquito-borne disease by altering the insects' life cycle, a study suggests. The so-called first-generation biofuel crops, most notably maize, are increasingly being replaced by second-generation biofuel crops, such as perennial grasses, which require less energy, water, fertilizers and pesticides to thrive.

23 January 2014

Warming climate will bring more extreme 'El Nino' events
From: Tim Radford, Ecologist
Rising global temperatures are likely to double the frequency of the most severe El Niños - the periodic atmospheric disruptions which affect weather across the globe. Tim Radford reports.

22 January 2014

Human response to climate
From: B. Rose Huber, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
Throughout history, humans have responded to climate. Take, for example, the Mayans, who, throughout the eighth and 10th centuries, were forced to move away from their major ceremonial centers after a series of multi-year droughts, bringing about agricultural expansion in Mesoamerica, and a clearing of forests. Much later, in the late 20th century, frequent droughts caused the people of Burkina Faso in West Africa to migrate from the dry north to the wetter south where they have transformed forests to croplands and cut the nation's area of natural vegetation in half.

20 January 2014

Scotland's tidal energy potential is greater than a nuclear power plant
From: ClickGreen Staff
Renewable tidal energy harnessed from a single stretch of water off the northern tip of Scotland could produce enough energy to power half of the nation, engineers say.

16 January 2014

Carbon Emissions in U.S. Rise 2 Percent Due to Increase in Coal
From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Carbon dioxide emissions rose two percent in the U.S. last year, according to preliminary data from the Energy Information Administration. Emissions rose largely due to increased coal consumption, the first such rise in U.S. emissions since 2010. Still, the annual emissions remain well below the peak hit in 2007 when emissions hit 6 billion tons.

Plants and wildlife adapting to climate change in Switzerland
From: Tim Radford, The Ecologist
Wildlife in Switzerland is seeking relief from warming temperatures by moving higher up the mountains, reports Tim Radford. Animals and plants are already today adapting to the rising temperatures at a surprising pace.

 

15 January 2014

From Waste to Food to Fuel: Rice Production and Green Charcoal in Senegal
From: Andrew Alesbury, Worldwatch Institute
Inadequate management of human waste is a dire problem in much of the developing world. Swelling urban populations can make matters worse by exposing increasingly dense populations to illnesses carried by human waste. Some, however, are making good use of the surplus sewage. Rather than allow the urine and fecal matter to lie fallow, some have taken to utilizing it for agricultural purposes in lieu of synthetic or inorganic fertilizers. This practice not only makes fertilizer more readily available to farmers who might not have easy access to it in conventional forms, it is also significantly less expensive than using inorganic and synthetic fertilizers, which are often imported. Furthermore, the use of human fertilizer can sometimes be a crop-saving tactic when water is in short supply.

Supreme Court Issues Decision in Landmark GMO Lawsuit
From: Food Democracy Now
The US Supreme Court has denied organic and GMO-free farmers their day in Court against Monsanto - leaving them unable to challenge the company's patents or seek redress for GMO seed contamination.

8 January 2014

Suburbs Stomp On City's Eco-Savings with their own Carbon Footprint
From: Allison Winter, ENN
According to a new study by UC Berkeley researchers, population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse-gas emissions per person than other areas of the country. This reasoning seems to makes sense because of resources like public transportation that cut down carbon emissions and shared heating and electricity costs that save on energy. But with every city comes its suburbs and these areas essentially stomp out all environmental benefits that dense cities provide with their own carbon footprint.

Record Winds Cause Energy Prices to Fall in Europe
From: ClickGreen Staff
Electricity prices across Europe dropped last month as mild temperatures, strong winds and stormy weather produced wind power records in Germany, France and the UK, according to data released by Platts. The Platts Continental Power Index (CONTI) fell 0.4% in December 2013 to €46.80 per Megawatt hour (/MWh) compared to the November 2013 rate of €47.00/MWh, when calmer winds and colder temperatures suppressed wind power and boosted electricity prices. Year-over-year the index was up 8.8%.

7 January 2014

New compounds may contribute to health impacts of urban air and dietary exposure
From: ENN Staff
The combustion and exhaust in cars and trucks along with the reactions that occurs in grills for backyard cooking both contribute to pollution and can produce carcinogens.

6 January 2014

Volume of electronic waste set to rise by a third
From: Greenpeace India
The amount of electronic waste produced globally is set to grow by a third between 2012 and 2017, according to a forecast made by experts at a global partnership created to tackle e-waste.

17 December 2013

Using Plankton to Control Malaria
From: Joel Winston, SciDevNet
Improving the biodiversity of ponds and lakes in malaria-endemic regions could offer a powerful and sustainable way to control malaria. A common mosquito-controlling strategy is to apply biological insecticides, such as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) — a bacterium that produces toxins that target mosquito larvae. Because of this precise impact, Bti treatment preserves more biodiversity than chemicals such as DDT, which are lethal to most species.

EPA settles an unsettling amount of reactive hazardous waste in Oregon
From: Staff, ENN
Oregon Metallurgical of Albany and TDY Industries of Millersburg have agreed to pay a combined $825,000 to resolve alleged violations related to the improper storage, transportation, and disposal of anhydrous magnesium chloride, a reactive hazardous waste that poses fire and explosion threats. The EPA asserts that both companies must improve their hazardous waste management practices and upgrade their record keeping for wastes generated at their facilities to avoid potential injuries and accidents.

12 December 2013

The Unintended Consequences of Reflective Pavements
From: CleanTechies
Among the most interesting exhibitors at the recent Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Philadelphia may have been the Asphalt Pavement Alliance challenging what we thought we knew about urban heat island effect with new research from Arizona State University.

10 December 2013

Driving Declines in US Urban Areas, Public Transit and Biking on the Rise
From: ENN Staff
A new report by the U.S.PIRG Education Fund details reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in America's most populous urbanized areas. The study also finds a greater use of public transit and biking in most cities.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Lead Exposure
From: Science
Researchers striving to understand the origins of dementia are building the case against a possible culprit: lead exposure early in life. A study spanning 23 years has now revealed that monkeys who drank a lead-rich formula as infants later developed tangles of a key brain protein, called tau, linked to Alzheimer's disease. Though neuroscientists say more work is needed to confirm the connection, the research suggests that people exposed to lead as children—as many in America used to be before it was eliminated from paint, car emissions, water, and soil—could have an increased risk of the common, late-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease.

9 December 2013

UN shows how mobile-phone data can map human need
From: Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
Tracking people’s movements after the Haiti earthquake, mapping malaria spread in Kenya, evaluating Mexico’s government policies on flu outbreak, improving national census surveys in Latin America and Africa. These are just a few examples of how mobile-phone data has been used in development, as highlighted by a recent UN report.

20 November 2013

Carbon emissions set to hit new record high in 2013
From: Jeremey Hance, MONGABAY.COM
The amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere in 2013 is expected to hit a new high of 36 billion tonnes, according to a Carbon Budget released today by the Global Carbon Project (GCP). This is a 2.1 percent rise from 2012 based on data from the same group.

18 November 2013

Fukushima fallout
From: Chris Busby, The Ecologist
A new study finds that radioactive Iodine from Fukushima has caused a significant increase in hypothyroidism among babies in California, 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. The Fukushima catastrophe has been dismissed as a potential cause of health effects even in Japan, let alone as far away as California.

Children's Congenial Heart Defects Linked to Environmental Toxins
From: Editor, ENN
Approximately 8 out of every 1,000 newborns have congenial heart defects — abnormalities in the heart's structure that happen due to incomplete or irregular development of the fetus' heart during the first stages of the mother's pregnancy. While some are known to be associated with genetic disorders, the cause of most of these heart defects is unknown.

12 November 2013

Filipino delegate: no denying climate change now
From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Yesterday, the Filipino delegate to the ongoing climate summit, Naderev 'Yeb' Saño, dared climate change deniers to take a hard look at what's happening not just in the Philippines, but the whole world. Over the weekend, the Philippines was hit by what may have been the largest typhoon to ever make landfall: Typhoon Haiyan. Reports are still coming in days later, but the death toll may rise to over 10,000 with whole cities simply swept away.

11 November 2013

Sustainable Fishing
From: KAT FRIEDRICH/ecoRI News
Restoring ocean fisheries in 24 countries could provide a meal for close to a billion people a day. New Englanders can also help ocean ecosystems recover by eating wild fish, choosing small fish, buying fish from the United States and eating mollusks, according to Andrew Sharpless, CEO of Oceana.

Pollution detector designed to protect heritage sites
From: Joshua Howgego, SciDevNet
A simple detector could help conservators at World Heritage sites in the developing world understand and protect against atmospheric pollutants that can damage valuable artifacts. The pollutant-measuring device has been prototyped by Henoc Agbota, an engineer at University College London, United Kingdom, and presented last week (30 October) at a conference marking the end of a five-year funding programme for heritage science run from the university.

7 November 2013

CO2 Concentrations Hit New High Last Year
From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
The concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record high last year, according to a new report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). While this was not a surprise given still-rising global emissions, the concentration rose significantly more than the average this decade. According to the WMO's annual greenhouse gas bulletin, CO2 concentrations hit 393.1 parts per million (ppm) in 2012.

Global map provides new insights into land use
From: Editor, ENN
In order to assess the global impacts of land use on the environment and help provide appropriate countermeasures, a group of researchers under the leadership of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) has created a new world map of land use systems. Based on various indicators of land-use intensity, climate, environmental and socio-economic conditions, they identified twelve global patterns called land system archetypes. The scientists from UFZ with colleagues from the Humboldt-University Berlin and University Bonn have recently published their results in the journal Global Environmental Change.

5 November 2013

2013 PCB dredging on the Hudson
From: Editor, ENN
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that more than 612,000 cubic yards of river bottom sediment contaminated with PCBs were removed from the upper Hudson River during 2013, exceeding the annual goal of 350,000 cubic yards for this historic dredging project. This is similar to the amount dredged in 2012 when more than 650,000 cubic yards were removed. The Superfund cleanup required by the EPA calls for the dredging of approximately 2.65 million cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment from a 40-mile stretch of the upper Hudson River between Fort Edward and Troy, New York.

4 November 2013

We're burying ourselves in our own garbage
From: Population Matters from Nature
Solid waste — the stuff we send down our chutes, discard at work and put on the curb every week — is a striking by-product of civilization. The average person in the United States throws away their body weight in rubbish every month. When waste management works well, we give it little thought: out of sight and, usually, quickly out of mind. Discarded materials are collected, some are recycled or composted, and most are landfilled or incinerated. But the global view is troubling.

Climate change likely to affect streams that quench Salt Lake City's thirst
From: Editor, ENN
New research shows that in the Salt Lake City region, for every increased Fahrenheit degree, a significant drop in the annual flow of streams is likely to occur. While the impacts of a temperature increase would vary among the region's watersheds, it is predicted that the stream flow would decline by 1.8 to 6.5 percent for each degree of temperature rise, with an average reduction of 3.8 percent.

29 October 2013

Mercury Sediment Carried Forth by California Floods
From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
Mercury contamination in sediment has been a big concern in the Central Valley lowland areas of California. But associate researcher from the University of California, Michael Singer has unearthed new information and considerations utilizing modern topographic datasets and modeling to track mercury-laden sediment. Singer hypothesizes that the progradation process resulting from 10-year flooding events within the valleys below the Sierra Nevada Mountains are the key to understanding and tracking the presence of mercury. Singer has connected the mercury amalgamation process, which was used to extract gold from the mountains during the 19th century with the current high incidence of mercury in regional delta sediment.

Sandy’s path of destruction felt in the Caribbean too
From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
Last year at this time much of the United States eastern seaboard was closely monitoring Super Storm Sandy. Hour by hour people watched with horror as she blew across the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas ultimately charging up the Atlantic, swinging west to crash into the Mid-Atlantic states at full force. Damage to New York and New Jersey was extensive to be sure, but the larger populations and greater affluence to the north have largely overshadowed recovery of the Caribbean nations.

Researchers link melting Arctic Sea ice to increased summer rainfall in Northwest Europe
From: Editor, ENN
Northwest Europe experienced extraordinarily wet summers between 2007 and 2012 - this occurrence is now being explained by scientists because of changes to the jet stream.

28 October 2013

GM Crops Causing a Stir in Washington State, Mexico, and Hawaii
From: Sophie Wenzlau, Worldwatch Institute,
Courts, councils, and voters across North America are weighing in on genetically modified (GM) crops this month. In Washington state, voters are beginning to cast ballots in favor of or opposing Initiative 522, which would mandate that all GM food products, seeds, and seed stocks carry labels in the state. According to the initiative, polls consistently show that the vast majority of the public, typically more than 90 percent, would like to know whether or not the food they buy has been produced using genetic modification.

23 October 2013

Air Pollution and Cancer Spikes linked in Alberta
From: Editor, ENN
Alberta is Canada's industry epicenter and home to more than 40 companies that produce industrial emissions. Recent studies conducted by the University of California and the University of Michigan have indicated higher levels of contaminants which can potentially be linked to spikes in the incidences of cancer in the region.

22 October 2013

Red Smog alert chokes northern China
From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
A red alert has been issued for several cities in northern China including Changchun and Harbin. A red alert is the highest level on the four-tiered alert system and is defined as serious air pollution for three consecutive days. According to Xinhuanet News, "the density of PM 2.5 -- airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter, exceeded 500 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday morning." Visibility is presently less than 50 meters in the downtown capital city of Harbin of Heilongjiang Province.

11 October 2013

Who is exposed to more pesticides, rural or urban dwellers?
From: s.e. smith, Care2
Who has higher levels of pesticide exposure, New Yorkers or rural dwellers near commercial farms? The answer might surprise you: for at least two classes of pesticide, New Yorkers are actually more exposed, despite the fact that we associate pesticide use with the application of such chemicals to crops to protect them from destruction during growing and harvest season. Research on the subject has significant implications for pest management and environmental health.

Record temperatures set to reach tropics first
From: Diane Desotelle, MN Sea Grant
Tropical regions will be the first to experience unprecedented climate change, leading to significant upheaval for biodiversity and communities, according to a study published in Nature today.

10 October 2013

Climate modeling update
From: Roger Greenway, ENN
Climate models keep getting better but still can't predict with great certainty. So scientists run multiple models and look at the results of each model and calculate a consensus projection. The intent is to reduce the level of uncertainty by using a range of models with different types of shortcomings to hopefully improve confidence in the results.

9 October 2013

Airport noise linked to heart disease
From: EurekAlert
Exposure to high levels of aircraft noise is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, find two studies published on bmj.com today. Previous studies of exposure to aircraft noise have examined the risk of hypertension, but few have examined the risk of cardiovascular disease and results are inconsistent. So researchers based in London set out to investigate the risks of stroke and heart disease in relation to aircraft noise among 3.6 million residents living near London Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world.

8 Ocotber 2013

Climate Change and Water Scarcity
From: Editor, ENN
Using a novel methodological approach, scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have introduced new estimates on how climate change will affect water availability. Access to freshwater in Africa and the Middle East is known to be scarce, but the Siberian tundra and Indian grasslands also lack freshwater. These areas along with dry pockets across the globe are expected to expand and create implications for their habitats and communities. The new study predicts that if global warming is limited to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, 500 million people could be subject to increased water scarcity. And at 5 degrees global warming almost all ice-free land might be affected by ecosystem change.

7 October 2013

Microbes vs. Genetic Modification
From: Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
Adapting microbes that dramatically increase crop yields while reducing demand for fertilizers and pesticides through selective breeding or genetic engineering could be cheaper and more flexible than genetically modifying plants themselves, says an author of a report.

4 Ocotber 2013

Climate Change May Increase Mercury Content in Fish
From: Editor, ENN
Mercury pollution can be a serious health threat as once mercury enters our body, it acts as a neurotoxin, interfering with the brain and nervous system. Mercury is emitted to the air by power plants and other industrial facilities and becomes a serious threat when it settles into oceans. As the mercury enters waterways, naturally occurring bacteria absorb it and the pollutant makes it way up the food chain as larger fish consume smaller fish. As an example, mackerel, swordfish, tuna, and grouper rank high when it comes to mercury content. We have known about the effects of mercury in fish for some time now, however, looming changes in climate could make fish accumulate even more mercury, according to a study in the journal PLOS ONE.

3 October 2013

Hydrofracking resulting in radioactive contaminants in wastewater
From: Debra Goldberg, ENN
The Marcellus Shale, encompassing 104,000 square miles across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and upstate New York, is the largest source of natural gas in the US. Since 2008, hydraulic fracturing has been used to release and capture the shale gas for energy consumption. The use of hydrofracking has been highly disputed, and recent findings by Duke University further display the harmful impacts of fracking.

1 October 2013

Switch to organic farming may boost yields and incomes
From: Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
Switching to organic and resource-conserving methods of farming can improve smallholder crop yields, food security and income, a review study has found. But a more-extensive evidence base founded on rigorous and consistent research methods is needed before the findings can be generalised to other situations, according to the study published in the current issue of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability.

30 September 2013

Extreme wildfires - the new normal?
From: NPR Staff - NPR
It has been a deadly year for the people who fight wildfires. In total, 32 people have lost their lives fighting fires in 2013; the highest number in nearly 20 years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Just one incident accounts for most of those deaths, the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona. In June, the blaze blasted through a firefighting crew known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots; 19 of the 20 men died.

New UN climate change report
From: Roger Greenway, ENN
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been leading the effort in collecting scientific evidence of climate change and in looking to answer the most important question, is it caused by human activity? Some argue that it is caused mostly by natural variability, and non-human factors. The new IPCC report, released this week, provides more evidence that human activity is a major cause.

 

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Last modified: 09/27/2011 9:05 am