Ecosystems

Alaska to probe recent fires at BP oil fields
September 12, 2007 08:11 AM - Yereth Rosen -Reuters

Alaska officials said on Tuesday they were investigating BP Plc's local unit due to a spate of fires at oil-field facilities, which come after two years of scrutiny over safety at BP's U.S. operations.

China Clamping Down On Polluters
September 11, 2007 06:24 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

Beijing, China - Chinese leaders are vowing a more aggressive prosecution of polluters, keeping in step with demands from the public there for tougher enforcement of anti-pollution laws. More than 8,000 Chinese enterprises have been penalized for pollution offenses in the first eight months of this year but the vice director of China's environmental watchdog believes the results are "far below" the expectations of the public.

Researchers To Study Ecological Genomics
September 11, 2007 05:03 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

MANHATTAN -- A research geneticist at Kansas State University, will be taking a much closer look at the complex relationship between genes in a microscopic worm and a changing environment. "Global change" says Dr Michael Herman,"is making the environment sick, and we're using genomics to understand exactly what's going wrong." A big federal grant will allow him to continue his research on soil nematodes, a nearly microscopic organism, in the emerging field of ecological genomics. The money comes from a National Science Foundation grant, $622,000. With it, Dr Herman will further his research on soil nematodes, a nearly microscopic type of worm, in the emerging field of ecological genomics.

Report: Atrazine Contaminates Midwest Drinking Water
September 11, 2007 03:34 PM - NRDC

WASHINGTON — New water quality data obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) confirms high levels of Atrazine — a cancer-causing pesticide — in Midwest drinking water supplies. Environmental Protection Agency data reveals raised Atrazine levels in 94 of 136 water systems tested at the source. Tests were conducted in Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Grey What Harpooned, Killed Near Seattle, Tribal Hunt Condemned
September 11, 2007 03:15 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

Washington, D.C. - A prominent wildlife group is condemning the killing of a gray whale yesterday in the Strait of Juan de Fuca by some members of the Makah Tribe, calling the killing of the protected animal illegal, cruel, and callous. The inland seaway where the whale was killed is located in the Seattle area. Today the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported that leaders of the Makah tribe also condemned the killing and vowed to prosecute the individuals responsible, saying the hunt took place without the permission of the tribe.

In Depth: Antimicrobial Chemicals in Buildings - Hygiene or Harm?
September 11, 2007 02:35 PM - Tristan Roberts, BuildingGreen

The market for antibacterial lotions, soaps, and wipes has exploded, and antimicrobial compounds are now common in other consumer items like shampoos, deodorants, shoes and apparel, and food-preparation and storage items, despite widespread evidence that these compounds often don’t work as advertised. But now even our buildings are getting in on the trend. The use of chemicals in building products, especially to kill mold, is centuries-old, but antimicrobial chemicals are proliferating in heretofore rarely seen places: furniture, flooring, wallcoverings, textiles, countertops, sunshades, doorknobs and push-plates, ductwork, and caulking. This article examines applications of antimicrobials in buildings, asking whether they are warranted, and looking at how antimicrobials work. It also explores health and safety concerns and suggests ways to make buildings more hygienic, with or without antimicrobials.

Ecosystems At Risk When Estrogens Mix With Other Chemicals
September 11, 2007 11:11 AM - Dr. Ed Orlando and Wendy Hessler, Environmental Health News

New experiments reveal that the synthetic estrogen used by women for birth control causes wide ranging health effects in minnows, but that the effects were different from when the drug was tested alone compared with when it was mixed with wastewater effluent. The tests found that when the estrogen, called 17α-ethinylestradiol, showed up in the water along with municipal wastewater, it caused feminization of male fish, altered their DNA integrity, changed their immune cell numbers and the ability to breakdown pollutants.

Researcher finds lake boiling with methane
September 11, 2007 10:59 AM - University of Alaska Fairbanks

Last month, UAF researcher Katey Walter brought a National Public Radio crew to Alaska’s North Slope, hoping to show them examples of what happens when methane is released when permafrost thaws beneath lakes.

After Coastal Bird Decline, Malaysia To Enforce Tough New Rules
September 11, 2007 09:55 AM - Clarence Fernandez, Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia vowed on Tuesday to toughen environmental rules for coastal development projects after a study showed a drop in bird numbers following reclamation that destroyed their homes in mangroves and wetlands. Farms, homes and industry have sprung up along Malaysia's coasts, depriving migratory birds of key winter homes, leading to a 22 percent fall in the number of shorebirds recorded in the two decades to 2006, conservation group Wetlands International said.

Fishing nations urged to protect newly discovered cold-water corals
September 11, 2007 07:59 AM - WWF

A new WWF study assesses the impact of fishing on three fragile coldwater coral “hotspots” off the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, providing the scientific basis for Canadian and European governments to protect sensitive coral habitat in the Northwest Atlantic. Based on scientific surveys by Canadian researchers, the study — Cold-water corals off New Foundland and Labrador: Distribution and fisheries impacts — illustrates the distribution of corals and assesses coral bycatch (where fishing gear becomes accidentally entangled in corals) in the six most common deep-water-fisheries off Newfoundland and Labrador.

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