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New robotic lab tracking toxicity of Lake Erie algal bloom
July 22, 2017 12:41 PM - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A new research tool to safeguard drinking water is now keeping a watchful eye on Lake Erie. This week, a robotic lake-bottom laboratory began tracking the levels of dangerous toxins produced by cyanobacteria that bloom each summer in the lake's western basin.

The goal is to provide advance warning to municipal drinking water managers and thereby prevent a recurrence of the water crisis that left more than 400,000 Toledo-area residents without safe drinking water for about two days in early August 2014 due to high levels of microcystin toxins.

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Septic systems are a major source of emerging contaminants in drinking water
June 27, 2017 06:19 AM - Silent Spring Institute

A new analysis shows that septic systems in the United States routinely discharge pharmaceuticals, consumer product chemicals, and other potentially hazardous chemicals into the environment. The study, published June 15 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, is the most comprehensive assessment to date of septic systems as important sources of emerging contaminants, raising health concerns since many of these chemicals, once discharged, end up in groundwater and drinking water supplies.

Known as contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), these types of pollutants are frequently detected in U.S. rivers, lakes, and drinking water supplies. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not currently regulate them in drinking water. Many emerging contaminants are hormone disruptors.

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SPOTLIGHT

Want To Slow Global Warming? Researchers Look To Family Planning

Tori Whitley, NPR

We've all heard of ways to reduce our carbon footprint: biking to work, eating less meat, recycling.

But there's another way to help the climate. A recent study from Lund University in Sweden shows that the biggest way to reduce climate change is to have fewer children.

"I knew this was a sensitive topic to bring up," says study co-author Kimberly Nicholas on NPR's Morning Edition. "Certainly it's not my place as a scientist to dictate choices for other people. But I do think it is my place to do the analysis and report it fairly."

The study concludes that four high-impact ways to reduce CO2 gas emissions include having fewer children, living without a car, avoiding airplane travel and eating a vegetarian diet.

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