Pollution

High levels of natural uranium identified in 2 major U.S. aquifers
August 17, 2015 03:30 PM - University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Nearly 2 million people throughout the Great Plains and California live above aquifer sites contaminated with natural uranium that is mobilized by human-contributed nitrate, according to a study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Commentary on the US plan to reduce carbon emissions
August 16, 2015 07:45 AM - Tim Kruger, The Ecologist

President Obama's plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions may look like a climate victory, writes Tim Kruger - but it's no such thing. It's feeble because the US can meet its targets by reducing emissions to 2030 more slowly than it has since 2000. And it's fragile as any future President can scrap it at will.

Climate change-denying Republicans hate this plan (of course), therefore all good climate realists see it as a triumph. But it is a tiny, tiny step in the right direction and climatically immaterial.

No doubt, you heard the good news. Barack Obama has announced the US is pushing through plans to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Rejoice! Rejoice! We've got this climate problem licked - hurrah!

US EPA proposes regulations to reduce methane emissions from landfills
August 15, 2015 07:53 AM - US Environmental Protection Agency

As part of the Administration's Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued two proposals to further reduce emissions of methane-rich gas from municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. Under today’s proposals, new, modified and existing landfills would begin collecting and controlling landfill gas at emission levels nearly a third lower than current requirements. 

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential more than 25 times that of carbon dioxide. Climate change threatens the health and welfare of current and future generations. Children, older adults, people with heart or lung disease and people living in poverty may be most at risk from the health impacts of climate change. In addition to methane, landfills also emit other pollutants, including the air toxics benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and vinyl chloride. 

Which food wastes have greater environmental impacts?
August 14, 2015 11:39 AM - University of Missouri-Columbia

Approximately 31 percent of food produced in the U.S., or 133 billion pounds of food worth $162 billion, was wasted in 2011 according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that the type of food wasted has a significant impact on the environment. Although less meat is wasted (on average) compared to fruits and vegetables, the researchers found that significantly more energy is used in the production of meat compared to the production of vegetables. This wasted energy is usually in the form of resources that can have negative impacts on the surrounding environment, such as diesel fuel or fertilizer being released into the environment.

Toxic blue-green algae pose increasing threat to nation's drinking, recreational water
August 13, 2015 01:41 PM - Oregon State University

A report concludes that blooms of toxic cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, are a poorly monitored and underappreciated risk to recreational and drinking water quality in the United States, and may increasingly pose a global health threat.

Power plant CO2 emissions at 27 year low
August 11, 2015 07:09 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Most of the environmental news we hear today is disheartening information about the consequences we’ll soon be facing thanks to climate change. Let’s take a momentary break from that sadness to focus on some good news: U.S. power plants are currently releasing the lowest amount of carbon emissions in 27 years. It seems like we might be making some progress!

The low mark occurred in April of this year, when U.S. power plants generated just 141 million tons of carbon dioxide, a figure we haven’t seen since April of 1988. Because power plants produce roughly one-third of the country’s emissions, this measurement is one of the biggest indicators we have to see how we’re doing at tackling global warming.

Stem Cell Research Identifies Effects of Pollution on Human Health
August 10, 2015 09:01 AM - Elsevier via AlphaGalileo

A recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Sciences (JES) shows that embryonic stem cells could serve as a model to evaluate the physiological effects of environmental pollutants efficiently and cost-effectively.

Are insecticides more toxic than we think?
August 6, 2015 12:15 PM -

Insecticides that are sprayed in orchards and fields across North America may be more toxic to spiders than scientists previously believed. A McGill research team reached this conclusion after looking at changes in the behaviour of individual Bronze Jumping Spiders both before and after exposure to Phosmet, a widely used broad spectrum insecticide. It is a finding with far-reaching implications for agricultural production and ecosystem health.

Ice cores show volcanic eruptions and cold climate strongly linked
August 4, 2015 07:31 AM -

Researchers find new evidence that large eruptions were responsible for cold temperature extremes recorded since early Roman times

It is well known that large volcanic eruptions contribute to climate variability. However, quantifying these contributions has proven challenging due to inconsistencies in both historic atmospheric data observed in polar ice cores and corresponding temperature variations seen in climate indicators such as tree rings.

Are septic tanks doing their job?
August 3, 2015 04:33 PM - Michigan State University

The notion that septic tanks prevent fecal bacteria from seeping into rivers and lakes simply doesn’t hold water, says a new Michigan State University study.

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