Do "Fat taxes" work?
July 28, 2014 02:55 PM - EurActiv
Specific taxes on sugar, salt or fat do cause reductions in consumption, the European Commission found in a new report. But higher taxes may also merely encourage consumers to go for cheaper products, it warned. The precise impact of such "fat taxes" on the competitiveness of the European agriculture and food sector still needs to be fully assessed, the report added.
Groundwater depletion and western US water supply
July 24, 2014 04:34 PM - NASA and UC Irvine
A new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought. This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.
New Insect Repellent Graphic Released by EPA
July 17, 2014 04:15 PM - 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. "We are working to create a system that does for bug repellents what SPF labeling did for sunscreens," said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. "By providing vital information to consumers, this new graphic will help parents, hikers and the general public better protect themselves and their families from serious health threats caused by mosquitoes and ticks. We are encouraging manufacturers to submit applications so they can add the graphic to their registered repellent products."
Exposure to Aircraft noise a continuing problem even with quieter engines
July 15, 2014 07:24 AM - EurActiv
Millions of urban Europeans are exposed to aviation noise that contributes to stress, high blood pressure and even weight gain, say health specialists who want stronger measures to make flying quieter. While new-generation jet engines are on average 75% quieter than than their 20th century predecessors, the advance in technology has been offset by a steady rise in flights and a demand for bigger passenger planes.
New Study Links Kidney Stones to...Warming Climate?
July 11, 2014 02:14 PM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen
In a study that may both reflect and foretell a warming planet's impact on human health, a research team found a link between hot days and kidney stones in 60,000 patients in several US cities with varying climates. "We found that as daily temperatures rise, there is a rapid increase in the probability of patients presenting over the next 20 days with kidney stones," said study leader Gregory E. Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE, a pediatric urologist and epidemiologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), who is on the staff of the Hospital's Kidney Stone Center as well as the Hospital's Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness (CPCE).
Record Radiation in South America
July 11, 2014 09:00 AM - 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. Nonetheless, it has taken scientists 10 years to detail a report of this data while taking into account all of the variables and anomalies monitored from an international network of dosimeters — or Eldonets (European Light Dosimeter Network) — that measure UV radiation worldwide. This system is comprised of more than 100 stations across 5 continents to account for variation in the atmosphere above each station.
New Study Quantifies Causes of the "Urban Heat Island" Effect
July 10, 2014 07:14 AM - 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. In an analysis of 65 cities across North America, researchers found that variation in how efficiently urban areas release heat back into the lower atmosphere — through the process of convection — is the dominant factor in the daytime UHI effect. This finding challenges a long-held belief that the phenomenon is driven principally by diminished evaporative cooling through the loss of vegetation.
Our newest Astronauts are fruit flies!
July 10, 2014 06:15 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Becoming an Astronaut is a big deal! Men and women selected to go into space are very carefully chosen. They go through rigorous medical evaluations to make sure they are healthy and that their bodies can withstand the forces of liftoff and re-entry. And they go through months and months of training to prepare them for their first space flight. Now NASA is sending untested, untrained astronauts into space. Of course, they are not human, they are fruit flies! Fruit flies are bug eyed and spindly, they love rotten bananas, and, following orders from their pin-sized brains, they can lay hundreds of eggs every day. We have a lot in common. Genetically speaking, people and fruit flies are surprisingly alike, explains biologist Sharmila Bhattacharya of NASA's Ames Research Center. "About 77% of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies, and 50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian analogues."
Frackable rock under groundwater aquifers raise water contamination fears
July 3, 2014 02:20 PM - Editor, The Ecologist
A study by the British Geological Survey and the Environment Agency reveals that almost all the the oil and gas bearing shales in England and Wales underlie drinking water aquifers, raising fears that widespread water contamination could occur. The British Geological Survey (BGS) in partnership with The Environment Agency (EA) have published a map which show the depth to each shale gas and oil source rock below principal groundwater aquifers in England and Wales.
EPA Proposes New Standards for Landfills, Hopes to Reduce Methane Emissions
July 2, 2014 08:49 AM - 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.