Pollution

Even safe levels of air pollution found to have health impacts in European study
August 30, 2015 07:40 AM - EUROPEAN SOCIETY OF CARDIOLOGY via EurekAlert

Particulate matter and NO2 air pollution are associated with increased risk of severe heart attacks despite being within European recommended levels, according to research presented at ESC Congress today by Dr Jean-Francois Argacha, a cardiologist at University Hospital Brussels (UZ Brussel-Vrije Universiteit Brussel), in Belgium.1

"Dramatic health consequences of air pollution were first described in Belgium in 1930 after the Meuse Valley fog," said Dr Argacha. "Nowadays, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers air pollution as one of the largest avoidable causes of mortality. Besides the pulmonary and carcinogenic effects of air pollution, exposition to air pollution has been associated with an increased risk in cardiovascular mortality."

Can rain clean the atmosphere?
August 28, 2015 02:31 PM - MIT News

As a raindrop falls through the atmosphere, it can attract tens to hundreds of tiny aerosol particles to its surface before hitting the ground. The process by which droplets and aerosols attract is coagulation, a natural phenomenon that can act to clear the air of pollutants like soot, sulfates, and organic particles. Atmospheric chemists at MIT have now determined just how effective rain is in cleaning the atmosphere. 

Study links air pollution to low GPAs
August 28, 2015 09:01 AM - University of Texas at El Paso

A University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) study on children’s health has found that fourth and fifth graders who are exposed to toxic air pollutants at home are more likely to have lower GPAs.

Carbon Credits Under Kyoto Protocol Actually Increased Emissions
August 27, 2015 07:28 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

At the end of November, governments will come together in Paris to hammer out agreements for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Under the KP, there are two greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions offsetting mechanisms: joint implementation (JI) and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

JI allows countries with emissions-reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to generate Emission Reduction Units (ERUs) from GHG reduction projects and transfer them to other countries. Almost 872 million ERUs had been issued under JI as of March 2015, about a third of all Kyoto offset credits. In a nutshell, JIs are carbon credits and include things like reforestation projects.

Plastic particles found in cosmetics
August 26, 2015 10:12 AM - Plymouth University

Everyday cosmetic and cleaning products contain huge quantities of plastic particles, which are released to the environment and could be harmful to marine life, according to a new study. Research at Plymouth University has shown almost 100,000 tiny ‘microbeads’ – each a fraction of a millimetre in diameter – could be released in every single application of certain products, such as facial scrubs.

Scientists Warn of Air Pollution Risks in West Africa
August 21, 2015 01:55 PM - University of York

New research by European and African scientists, including a team from the University of York, warns of the risks posed by the increasing air pollution over the cities of West Africa – amid fears it could have an impact on human health, meteorology and regional climate.

MIT analysis improves estimates of global mercury pollution
August 21, 2015 07:26 AM - MIT News

Once mercury is emitted into the atmosphere from the smokestacks of power plants, the pollutant has a complicated trajectory; even after it settles onto land and sinks into oceans, mercury can be re-emitted back into the atmosphere repeatedly. This so-called “grasshopper effect” keeps the highly toxic substance circulating as “legacy emissions” that, combined with new smokestack emissions, can extend the environmental effects of mercury for decades.

Now an international team led by MIT researchers has conducted a new analysis that provides more accurate estimates of sources of mercury emissions around the world. The analysis pairs measured air concentrations of mercury with a global simulation to calculate the fraction of mercury that is either re-emitted or that originates from power plants and other anthropogenic activities. The result of this work, researchers say, could improve estimates of mercury pollution, and help refine pollution-control strategies around the world.

China's carbon emissions may be lower than estimated
August 20, 2015 01:30 PM - Eliza Berlage, The Ecologist

The IPCC has over-estimated China's emissions since 2000 by 14%, almost 3 gigatonnes of carbon since 2000, while its energy consumption has been 10% higher than realised, writes Eliza Berlage. The country is far more carbon-efficient than we ever knew.

Mercury and Selenium are Accumulating in the Colorado River Food Web
August 20, 2015 09:01 AM - USGS Newsroom

Although the Grand Canyon segment of the Colorado River features one of the most remote ecosystems in the United States, it is not immune to exposure from toxic chemicals such as mercury according to newly published research in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The study, led by the U.S. Geological Survey, found that concentrations of mercury and selenium in Colorado River food webs of the Grand Canyon National Park, regularly exceeded risk thresholds for fish and wildlife. 

Air pollution in China is bad, REALLY bad!
August 20, 2015 08:28 AM - RP Siegel

There can be no question that the epic story of our time is our struggle to endure against the threatening demons of our own creation. In that story, China must be the sleeping giant. As the story opens, the giant awakens, searching for a way to improve the livelihood of his people, inadvertently trampling on a number of the Earth’s delicate structures in doing so. Realizing this, a second awakening occurs. But can the giant change direction quickly enough, before too much harm is done?

The damage that re-directed the giant was the realization that fossil fuel emissions, particularly from coal-fired power plants, are pushing atmospheric carbon levels to dangerously high levels. China’s emissions have grown 7 percent annually — far faster than the rest of the world, which is growing at 2.8 percent. Now that we all realize that emissions have to start decreasing, fast, China has pledged to achieve peak emissions by 2030, after which its emissions will begin to decrease.

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