Pollution

Longitudinal Study Links Air Pollution with Cardiovascular Disease Risk
November 3, 2016 10:44 AM - Sarah Plumridge via Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

An increased concentration of air pollution within metropolitan areas is associated with progression in coronary calcification and with acceleration of atherosclerosis, according to a study published in The Lancet.

In the prospective, 10-year cohort study, Northwestern Medicine scientists and collaborators at other institutions repeatedly measured coronary artery calcium by CT scan in 6,795 participants aged 45 to 84 years, who were enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air) in six metropolitan areas in the U.S.

Super Emitters - are responsible for more than half of U.S. methane emissions
October 28, 2016 02:48 PM - Ker Than via Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences

The bulk of methane emissions in the United States can be traced to a small number of “super emitting” natural gas wells, according to a new study.

“We’re finding that when it comes to natural gas leaks, a 50/5 rule applies: That is, the largest 5 percent of leaks are typically responsible for more than 50 percent of the total volume of leakage,” said study co-author Adam Brandt, an assistant professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.

The findings, published online in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, could lead to more efficient strategies for sampling emissions and fixing the most significant leaks, said Brandt, who is also a senior fellow at Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy. By focusing on finding and fixing the biggest emitters, companies can significantly reduce the amount of methane leaking into the atmosphere.

Toxins from freshwater algae found in San Francisco Bay shellfish
October 27, 2016 09:20 AM - Tim Stephens

Scientists have detected high levels of a toxin produced by freshwater algae in mussels from San Francisco Bay. Although shellfish harvested from California's coastal waters are monitored for toxins produced by marine algae, they are not routinely tested for this freshwater toxin, called microcystin.

The toxin, which causes liver damage, is produced by a type of cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) that thrives in warm, nutrient-rich water conditions. It has been found in many lakes and rivers in California, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, which flow into the San Francisco Bay Delta, and in several Bay Area lakes.

Air pollution linked to blood vessel damage in healthy young adults
October 26, 2016 03:06 PM - American Heart Association

Fine particulate matter air pollution may be associated with blood vessel damage and inflammation among young, healthy adults, according to new research in Circulation Research, an American Heart Association journal.

“These results substantially expand our understanding about how air pollution contributes to cardiovascular disease by showing that exposure is associated with a cascade of adverse effects,” said C. Arden Pope, Ph.D., study lead author and Mary Lou Fulton Professor of Economics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

How Pollution Is Devastating an Indonesian Lake
October 26, 2016 08:59 AM - Binsar Bakkara via Yale Environment 360

Uncontrolled fish farming, population growth, and logging have all taken a toll on Indonesia’s Lake Toba. Photographer Binsar Bakkara returns to his home region to chronicle the environmental destruction. 

More than 1,500 tons of fish suddenly turned up dead in Indonesia’s largest lake earlier this year, a mass asphyxiation from a lack of oxygen in the water caused by high pollution levels. The event threatened the livelihoods of hundreds of fish farmers and the drinking water for thousands of people, and it shed light on the rapidly declining conditions in Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world. 

The Methane Riddle: What Is Causing the Rise in Emissions?
October 25, 2016 09:34 AM - Yale Environment 360

The stomachs of cattle, fermentation in rice fields, fracking for natural gas, coal mines, festering bogs, burning forests — they all produce methane, the second most important greenhouse gas, after carbon dioxide. But how much? And how can we best cut these emissions? And is fracking frying the planet, or are bovine emissions more to blame? 

Globally Averaged CO2 Levels Reach 400 parts per million in 2015
October 25, 2016 07:11 AM - World Meteorological Organization

Globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached the symbolic and significant milestone of 400 parts per million for the first time in 2015 and surged again to new records in 2016 on the back of the very powerful El Niño event, according to the World Meteorological Organization's annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

Amazon Study Reveals that Rainstorms Transport Atmospheric Particles Essential for Cloud Formation
October 24, 2016 01:10 PM - Brookhaven National Laboratory

Understanding how tiny particles emitted by cars and factories affect Earth's climate requires accurate climate modeling and the ability to quantify the effects of these pollutant particles vs. particles naturally present in the atmosphere. One large uncertainty is what Earth was like before these industrial-era emissions began. In a paper just published in Nature, scientists collaborating on the GoAmazon study describe how they tracked particles in the largely pristine atmosphere over the Amazon rainforest, which has given them a way to effectively turn back the clock a few hundred years.  

Protecting people and planet from "invisible killer" is focus of UN health campaign to tackle air pollution
October 20, 2016 04:50 PM - United Nations News Centre

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the Coalition for Climate and Clean Air (CCAC) and the Government of Norway has launched a global awareness campaign on the dangers of air pollution – especially ‘invisible killers’ such as black carbon, ground-level ozone and methane – for the health of individuals and the planet.

Titled BreatheLife: Clean air. A healthy future, the campaign aims to mobilize cities and their inhabitants on issues of health and protecting the planet from the effects of air pollution. Moreover, By WHO and CCAC joining forces, ‘BreatheLife’ brings together expertise and partners that can tackle both the climate and health impacts of air pollution.

Reducing ammonia pollution from cattle
October 19, 2016 04:13 PM - Luciano Barreto Mendes via International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

Agriculture is responsible for 90% of all ammonia pollution in Europe, a considerable part of which comes from cattle manure management: a new study shows what steps to take to reduce this pollution.

Improved barn design, cleaning processes, and manure treatment could reduce ammonia emissions from commercial dairy cattle barns by 17 to 50%, according to a new study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The study provides a list of techniques and technologies that could provide the greatest reductions in ammonia emissions.

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