Enn Original News

EU Household Plastics Banning
February 18, 2011 12:58 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The European Union will ban six toxic chemicals within three to five years, three of which are commonly used in plastic household items. Among the compounds are three plastic softening phthalates, a musk fragrance, a flame retardant and a hardener for epoxy resin. Although the most toxic phthalates have been banned in children's toys since 1999, a survey last October showed some are commonly found in products on supermarket shelves, including items regularly used by children, such as pencil cases and erasers. The decision is being taken under the REACH regulation on chemicals, adopted in 2006 after major debate and discussion.

How Rising Sea Levels Will Affect the US Coastline
February 18, 2011 09:08 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Thankfully, no major US city has gone underwater due to rising sea levels caused from global climate change. What happened in New Orleans was an effect of Hurricane Katrina, a failure of the levees, and the fact that part of the city was built below the water level. However, climate experts predict that sea levels will rise as ocean temperatures increase and the polar ice caps melt. Contingency plans are already being formulated by vulnerable US coastal cities. According to a new study led by scientists at the University of Arizona (UA), rising sea levels could cover up to nine percent of the land area in 180 US cities by 2100.

Lake Baikal Climate History
February 17, 2011 01:49 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world, with an average depth of over 5000 feet down and is 25 million years old so is therefore not only the deepest lake but oldest. Lake Baikal contains roughly 20% of the world's surface fresh water that is unfrozen and is located in the south of the Russian region of Siberia near the city of Irkutsk). has provided scientists with insight into the ways that climate change affects water temperature, which in turn affects life in the lake. The study is published in the journal PLoS ONE today. The research team discovered many climate variability signals, called teleconnections, in the data. For example, changes in Lake Baikal water temperature correlate with monthly variability in El NiƱo indices, reflecting sea surface temperatures over the Pacific Ocean tens of thousands of kilometers away. At the same time, Lake Baikal's temperatures are influenced by strong interactions with Pacific Ocean pressure fields described by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

Closer to the Cure for the Common Cold
February 17, 2011 09:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

There is no cure for the common cold, no magic elixir that will make all of your symptoms go away. However, over human's many millennia of battling the cold, we have found little tricks that can help fight it. According to new systematic review published in The Cochrane Library, we have found a new trick that could provide huge benefits. A way to significantly reduce severity and duration of the common cold is to take Zinc supplements.

Oil Shale Development
February 16, 2011 09:59 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Oil shale, which is an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock, contains significant amounts of kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds) from which liquid hydrocarbons can be extracted. Kerogen requires more processing to use than crude oil, which increases its cost as a crude-oil substitute both financially and in terms of its potential environmental impact. US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey announced today that they will take a fresh look at commercial oil shale rules and plans issued under the previous Administration and, if necessary, update them based on the latest research and technologies, to account for expected water demands in the arid West and to ensure they provide a fair return to taxpayer.

Sulfur Emissions on the Rise
February 15, 2011 04:56 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Sulfur dioxide is a major air pollutant and has significant impacts upon human health. In addition the concentration of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere can influence ecosytems. Sulfur dioxide emissions are a precursor to acid rain and atmospheric particulates. A new analysis of sulfur emissions appearing in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics shows that after declining for a decade, worldwide emissions rose again in 2000 due largely to international shipping and a growing Chinese economy. An accurate read on sulfur emissions will help researchers predict future changes in climate and determine present day effects on the atmosphere, health and the environment.

Why Do People Always Overestimate Slope?
February 15, 2011 09:07 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

"Holy Crap" is a very common phrase among mountain hikers when confronted by an intimidating slope. After plodding along at a nice five degree incline, a sudden rise in elevation can seem like either a daunting task or an irresistible challenge. I personally like sharp inclines because it means you can get more of the climb out of the way in quicker time. But sometimes that intimidating slope is not quite what it seems. According to a new study in the journal, Psychological Science, people routinely overestimate slope, whether they stand from the top or bottom. Our brains are hardwired to believe the incline is worse than it actually is.

New from BBC Earth: The Albatross: A life in the air
February 15, 2011 07:22 AM - BBC Earth

A bird that lives as long in legends as it does life: The Albatross remains one of most majestic of all of the Antarctic birds. This rather stunning bird can be traced as far back as the time of the first modern mammals, over 50 million years. And with an average life span of 50 years that’s a lot of birds. Though as a species they aren't so lucky, endangered the world over mostly as a result of human practices. These birds have come to be greatly respected, and have even become symbols of luck. Whether it is harboring the sacred soul of a dead sailor or filling a ship’s sails with wind to aid its progress; you do not have to look far to realise why it is so special. As one of the largest flying birds, the albatross has one of the largest wingspans of any bird still alive today at an incredible 11ft.

Arizona Haze and NOx
February 14, 2011 12:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Four Corners Power Plant is one of the largest coal-fired generating stations in the United States. The plant is located on Navajo land in Fruitland, New Mexico, about 25 miles west of Farmington. It is located to the west of the Grand Canyon and many other national parks. It was the first mine-mouth generation station to take advantage of the large deposits of sub-bituminous coal in the Four Corners region. The plant’s five units currently generate 2,040 megawatts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a supplemental proposal to reduce emissions from the Four Corners Power Plant. The new proposal will reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from approximately 45,000 tons per year to 5,800 tons per year, 3,200 tons less than EPA’s initial proposal. The proposal will also work to protect public health in the area by ensuring residents have cleaner air with fewer harmful pollutants. It will also reduce atmospheric haze and promote viability.

Welding Fumes and Safety
February 11, 2011 02:30 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A new alloy promises to lessen welders' risk of breathing toxic fumes on the job. The alloy is a welding "consumable" — the material that melts under the welder's torch to fill the gap between parts that are being joined. The new nickel alloy consumable is more expensive compared to those already on the market, but worth the cost in situations where adequate ventilation is a problem. Exposure to welding fumes can cause numerous health problems. When inhaled, welding fumes can enter the lungs, bloodstream, brain nerve cells, spinal cord and other organs and can cause both short- and long-term health effects.

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