Salting Roads takes a Toll on the Environment
January 14, 2015 10:49 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2
The United States has a salt problem, and it extends well beyond the excessive sodium we consume in our diets. In the winter months, municipalities rely on dumping salt on the roads to minimize the effects of ice. Altogether, the U.S. uses ten times the amount of salt on roadways than it does in the processed foods we consume. While the salt may help to keep drivers safe, it does come at a cost:
1. It Increases Our Own Salt Consumption
You can throw salt down on roads, but you can’t force it to stay there. In due time, salt makes its ways into nearby waterways where it lingers. As a result, a lot of the water we wind up drinking has higher levels of salt than it would otherwise. Vox cites a study that finds 84% of city-adjacent streams have higher levels of chloride thanks specifically to these road-salting techniques. Apparently, during the months following salted roads, 29% of these streams have more salt than the federal “safety limits” for drinking water allow.
Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products Could Taint Pools
January 6, 2015 01:01 PM - Purdue University
A new study suggests pharmaceuticals and chemicals from personal care products end up in swimming pools, possibly interacting with chlorine to produce disinfection byproducts with unknown properties and health effects. Chlorination is used primarily to prevent pathogenic microorganisms from growing. Previous research has shown that many constituents of urine including urea, uric acid, and amino acids, interact with chlorine to produce potentially hazardous disinfection byproducts in swimming pools. However, chemicals from pharmaceuticals and personal care products, or PPCPs, also could be interacting with chlorine, producing potentially harmful byproducts.
California's regulations on diesel trucks are having a positive impact on air pollution
January 3, 2015 08:42 AM - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory via ScienceDaily.
Ever wonder what's in the black cloud that emits from some semi trucks that you pass on the freeway? Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientist Thomas Kirchstetter knows very precisely what's in there, having conducted detailed measurements of thousands of heavy-duty trucks over months at a time at two San Francisco Bay Area locations.
”‹With a specially outfitted research van equipped with sophisticated monitors for several pollutant types, he and his team are studying emissions levels from diesel trucks to understand and analyze the impact of new control technologies and California air pollution regulations.
Carbon Dioxide Threat To Mussels' Shells
December 24, 2014 01:09 PM - The Ecologist, The Ecologist
The world's mussel population could be under threat as rising CO2 levels in atmosphere and oceans makes their shells weaker and more brittle shells - making them more vulnerable to stormy seas, and predation.
New study analyzes sound sensitivity of marine invertebrates
December 22, 2014 02:57 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Noise pollution in the ocean is increasingly recognized as harmful to marine mammals, affecting their ability to communicate, find mates, and hunt for food. But what impact does noise have on invertebrates -- a critical segment of the food web? Very few studies have attempted to answer that question. The harder question to answer might be 'How do you measure hearing in ocean invertebrates'? A new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and their colleagues examined behavioral responses to sound by cuttlefish, a type of shell-less mollusk related to squid and octopi. The study is the first to identify the acoustic range and minimum sound sensitivity in these animals. Their findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, can help decision makers and environmental managers better understand the impacts of noise in the ocean.
New York State to Ban Fracking Due to Health Risks
December 19, 2014 12:09 PM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit
This week, New York state joined the growing list of states and communities to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within its boundaries. After years of contentious debate over the safety of fracking, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s announcement Wednesday that he would move to unilaterally ban fracking was not completely unexpected. Still, environmental groups are counting the Department of Health’s report that “[high volume hydraulic fracturing] should not proceed in NYS” as a victory.
How dangerous ARE fracking chemicals really?
November 28, 2014 09:17 AM - University of Colorado Boulder
The “surfactant” chemicals found in samples of fracking fluid collected in five states were no more toxic than substances commonly found in homes, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Fracking fluid is largely comprised of water and sand, but oil and gas companies also add a variety of other chemicals, including anti-bacterial agents, corrosion inhibitors and surfactants. Surfactants reduce the surface tension between water and oil, allowing for more oil to be extracted from porous rock underground.
The prevalence of naturally occurring asbestos in the environment
November 4, 2014 10:49 AM - Geological Society of America, via EurekAlert.
Naturally occurring asbestos minerals may be more widespread than previously thought, with newly discovered sources now identified within the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The asbestos-rich areas are in locations not previously considered to be at risk, according to new report that will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Vancouver, Canada, on Sunday, 20 October.
"These minerals were found where one wouldn't expect or think to look," said Rodney Metcalf, associate professor of geology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and co-researcher of the study. The naturally occurring asbestos was found in Boulder City, Nevada, in the path of a construction zone to build a multi-million dollar highway called the Boulder City Bypass, the first stage of an I-11 corridor planned between Las Vegas and Arizona.
Study links childhood leukemia and power lines
October 31, 2014 08:16 AM - Institute of Physics
Researchers from the UK have called into question a theory suggesting that a previously reported risk of leukemia among children born close to overhead power lines could be caused by an alteration to surrounding air pollution. In a study published today, 31 October, in the Journal of Radiological Protection (the official journal of The Society for Radiological Protection), the researchers have found little evidence to support the ‘corona-ion hypothesis’ which has been cited as a possible explanation for the excess of childhood leukemia cases close to high-voltage overhead power lines in the UK prior to the 1980s.
MIT finds switching to higher octane fuel would reduce carbon emissions
October 28, 2014 07:15 AM - MIT News
If the majority of light-duty vehicles in the United States ran on higher-octane gasoline, the automotive industry as a whole would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 35 million tons per year, saving up to $6 billion in fuel costs, according to a new analysis by MIT researchers.
In a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the team considered a scenario in which fuel is manufactured under a redefined octane rating — the measure of a gasoline’s ability to resist engine knocking during combustion.