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Mercury Sediment Carried Forth by California Floods
October 29, 2013 01:59 PM - 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.
School Bus Company Fined $33K for Excessive Idling
October 29, 2013 09:02 AM - Editor, ENN
Watch out idlers — they're coming for you! Anti-idling laws on the federal, state, and local level are rapidly growing across the US in an effort to cut back on the billions of gallons of fuel that are wasted each year by idling vehicles. While it is difficult to patrol these idlers, especially on a local level, most states have laws against idling, with California taking the lead for the most codes and regulations. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also taking action against companies that violate federally-enforceable motor vehicle idling limits. The latest culprit - North Reading Transportation (NRT), a Methuen company that operates school buses and provides student transportation services in several Massachusetts communities.
GM Crops Causing a Stir in Washington State, Mexico, and Hawaii
October 28, 2013 10:30 AM - 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.
Kazakhstan nuclear test site clean up success
October 27, 2013 08:32 AM - Paul Lowe / Panos, SciDevNet
A Soviet-era nuclear test site in Kazakhstan was cleaned up through a collaborative international project that could provide lessons for tackling other dangerous nuclear sites across the globe, a report reveals. The report, entitled 'Plutonium Mountain', documents how international scientific cooperation was important for securing nuclear waste from the site. It was released in August by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, United States. The Semipalatinsk test site, which spans an area about the size of Belgium, lies in a remote part of eastern Kazakhstan. It embodied the post-Cold War risk of 'loose nukes' -- the threat that terrorists or rogue states could obtain nuclear fissile materials — according to the report.
The Abundance of Invasive Species
October 25, 2013 04:05 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Recognizing that invasive species are major catalysts for environmental change, researchers from the University of Wisconsin—Madison are relooking at how we account for invasive species populations. Instead of researching the behaviors and habits of the invasive species, researchers Gretchen Hansen and Jake Vander Zanden are considering abundance distributions of invasive species. They hypothesize that measuring abundance in an area is a more helpful determinate for defining the most optimal methods of prevention, containment, control and eradication.
The Benefits of Allergies
October 25, 2013 09:22 AM - Editor, ENN
For those of us that suffer from seasonal allergies, or even from indoor allergens like dust or mold, the symptoms that we have to these allergens is actually a positive reaction as two new studies show that our sneezing and wheezing may actually protect us. In a study involving reactions to bee stings, researchers report that mice that develop an allergic response to the venom in honeybee stings are more likely to survive potentially lethal doses of the same venom later on.
Introduction to Persistent, Bioaccumulative, Toxic (PBT) Compounds in the Environment
October 24, 2013 05:03 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Global chemical contamination is a worldwide concern affecting every being on earth. Chemical exposure, whether it is through air, water, plants, soil or our modern living environment is unavoidable. But certain chemicals and compounds having Persistent, Bioaccumulative, Toxic (PBT) characteristics are more dangerous to our environment than others because of their inability to break down easily, are easily transferred throughout all forms of environmental media, and posing risks to human health and the ecosystem due to their toxicity at low concentrations.
Ecology: Life's Connections
October 24, 2013 04:41 PM - Glen Barry, Ecologist
Ultimately, all humanity and all life have is the biosphere, the thin layer of life just above and below Earth’s surface, composed of ancient, miraculously evolved natural ecosystems. The natural Earth is a marvel - a complex coupling of species within ecosystems, whereby life begets life. Ecology is far more than the study of life and its environment. The word is used here as a synonym for ecosystems - the vibrant connections that emerge between species across scales, which cumulatively make life on Earth possible.
A ground-breaking, legally-binding global treaty on reducing mercury pollution has been signed by 92 countries. The treaty spells "the beginning of the end of mercury as a threat to human health and the environment", UN Environment Programme (UNEP) executive director Achim Steiner, told a diplomatic meeting in Japan earlier this month (10-11 October) where the treaty was signed. But much work remains to provide the funding and technical and scientific advice needed to implement the treaty, and to expand mercury monitoring capacity worldwide, experts say.
Air Pollution and Cancer Spikes linked in Alberta
October 23, 2013 11:48 AM - 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.