Pollution

Sawdust Reinvented Into Super Sponge for Oil Spills
December 19, 2016 07:19 AM - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Lowly sawdust, the sawmill waste that’s sometimes tossed onto home garage floors to soak up oil spilled by amateur mechanics, could receive some new-found respect thanks to science. Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have chemically modified sawdust to make it exceptionally oil-attracting and buoyant, characteristics that are ideal for cleaning oil spills in the icy, turbulent waters of the Arctic. The nontoxic material absorbs up to five times its weight in oil and stays afloat for at least four months. 

Millions exposed to mercury in urban Pakistan
December 16, 2016 07:24 AM - Saleem Shaikh, SciDevNet

More than 40 per cent of Pakistanis living in urban areas are exposed to mercury contamination through dust particles and bioaccumulation, says a new study.  

The study, published last month (November) in Science of the Total Environment, amassed hair samples from 22 sites in five zones in Pakistan — Swat Valley & Gilgit-Baltistan regions, Kashmir Valley, Lower Himalaya Mountains and Indus Plains.

Researchers Solve Mystery Of Historic 1952 London Fog And Current Chinese Haze
December 14, 2016 03:01 PM - Texas A&M University

Few Americans may be aware of it, but in 1952 a killer fog that contained pollutants covered London for five days, causing breathing problems and killing thousands of residents.  The exact cause and nature of the fog has remained mostly unknown for decades, but an international team of scientists that includes several Texas A&M University-affiliated researchers believes that the mystery has been solved and that the same air chemistry also happens in China and other locales.

Researchers Solve Mystery Of Historic 1952 London Fog And Current Chinese Haze
December 14, 2016 03:01 PM - Texas A&M University

Few Americans may be aware of it, but in 1952 a killer fog that contained pollutants covered London for five days, causing breathing problems and killing thousands of residents.  The exact cause and nature of the fog has remained mostly unknown for decades, but an international team of scientists that includes several Texas A&M University-affiliated researchers believes that the mystery has been solved and that the same air chemistry also happens in China and other locales.

How noise pollution impacts marine ecology
December 13, 2016 07:14 AM - Laura Briggs, The Ecologist

Marine ecologists have shown how noise pollution is changing the behaviour of marine animals - and how its elimination will significantly help build their resilience. Laura Briggs reports.

Building up a library of sound from marine creatures including cod, whelks and sea slugs is important to helping build resilience in species affected by noise pollution, according to Exeter University's Associate Professor in Marine Biology and Global Change Dr Steve Simpson.

Human noise factors including busy shipping lanes, wind farms and water tourism can all impact on the calls of various species - including cod which relies on sound for finding a mate with their "song".

Surge in methane emissions threatens efforts to slow climate change
December 13, 2016 07:08 AM - Future Earth

Global concentrations of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and cause of climate change, are now growing faster in the atmosphere than at any other time in the past two decades.

That is the message of a team of international scientists in an editorial published 12 December in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The group reports that methane concentrations in the air began to surge around 2007 and grew precipitously in 2014 and 2015.

Flame Retardant Pollution in Great Lakes Is a Serious Matter, Commission Says
December 12, 2016 12:18 PM - Treehugger

The International Joint Commission has developed a strategy for how U.S. and Canadian governments can address this toxic problem.

EPA's National Lakes Assessment Finds Nutrient Pollution is Widespread in Lakes
December 9, 2016 08:30 AM -

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the results of a national assessment showing that nutrient pollution is widespread in the nation’s lakes, with 4 in 10 lakes suffering from too much nitrogen and phosphorus.

Against the Tide: A Fish Adapts Quickly to Lethal Levels of Pollution
December 9, 2016 07:24 AM - Kat Kerlin, UC Davis

Evolution is working hard to rescue some urban fish from a lethal, human-altered environment, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis, and published Dec. 9 in the journal Science. 

While environmental change is outpacing the rate of evolution for many other species, Atlantic killifish living in four polluted East Coast estuaries turn out to be remarkably resilient. These fish have adapted to levels of highly toxic industrial pollutants that would normally kill them.

First Detection of Ammonia in the Upper Troposphere
December 5, 2016 01:59 PM - Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Population is growing, climate is warming – hence, emission of ammonia (NH3) trace gas from e.g. agriculture will increase worldwide. Recently, scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) for the first time detected NH3 in the upper troposphere. Together with researchers from Colorado/USA and Mexico, they analyzed satellite measurements by the MIPAS infrared spectrometer and found increased amounts of NH3 between 12 and 15 km height in the area of the Asian monsoon. This suggests that the gas is responsible for the formation of aerosols, smallest particles that might contribute to cloud formation. The researchers present their work in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal. (DOI: 10.5194/acp-16-14357-2016)

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