Pollution

NASA reports unknown source of banned ozone-destroying compound
August 21, 2014 07:33 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

NASA research has revealed the Earth's atmosphere contains an unexpectedly large amount of an ozone-depleting compound from an unknown source decades after the compound was banned worldwide. Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012.

Toxic Algae Scare Prompts Backlash Against Farms
August 18, 2014 09:25 AM - S.E. Smith, Care2

What do a no-drink order in Toledo and a backlash against factory farming have in common? A lot, as it turns out. Residents of Ohio's fourth-largest city were advised for multiple days earlier this month to refrain from drinking their tap water because it had been contaminated by toxic algae. As residents struggled to deal with their contaminated water supply, the culprit behind the problem became readily apparent: factory farms. The Ohio Agriculture Advisory Council (OAAC) is proposing a regulatory crackdown that could forever change industrial farming practices in this Midwestern state.

Water quality alerts do not seem to deter some surfers
August 16, 2014 07:23 AM - Oregon State University

Nearly three in 10 surfers admit they knowingly surf during health advisories — nearly the same amount that chooses not to surf during periods of elevated bacteria. About 40 percent of surfers said they were unaware if they had ever surfed during an active health advisory. The data can help public officials better warn surfers of potential health risks, said Anna Harding, co-author of the study and professor in OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences. "Beach advisories for bacteria are not having their intended effect of dissuading surfers," Harding said. “The lack of awareness about advisories — and willingness to take risks surfing in water that may be contaminated — suggests the need to educate surfers about behaviors that make them vulnerable to illness."

The cost of marine debris
August 12, 2014 03:53 PM - NOAA

Marine debris has many impacts on the ocean, wildlife, and coastal communities. A NOAA Marine Debris Program economic study released today shows that it can also have considerable economic costs to residents who use their local beaches. The study found that Orange County, California residents lose millions of dollars each year avoiding littered, local beaches in favor of choosing cleaner beaches that are farther away and may cost more to reach. Reducing marine debris even by 25 percent at beaches in and near Orange County could save residents roughly $32 million during three months in the summer.

New study casts light on climate change and oceanic oxygen levels
August 10, 2014 09:55 AM - University of South Carolina via ScienceDaily

A commonly held belief that global warming will diminish oxygen concentrations in the ocean looks like it may not be entirely true. According to new research published in Science magazine, just the opposite is likely the case in the northern Pacific Ocean, with its anoxic zone expected to shrink in coming decades because of climate change. An international team of scientists came to that surprising conclusion after completing a detailed assessment of changes since 1850 in the eastern tropical northern Pacific's oxygen minimum zone (OMZ). An ocean layer beginning typically a few hundred to a thousand meters below the surface, an OMZ is by definition the zone with the lowest oxygen saturation in the water column. OMZs are a consequence of microbial respiration and can be hostile environments for marine life.

What happens immediately after an oil spill?
August 9, 2014 08:51 AM - Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, via EurekAlert

The fate of oil during the first day after an accidental oil spill is still poorly understood, with researchers often arriving on the scene only after several days. New findings from a field experiment carried out in the North Sea provide valuable insight The immediate aftermath of an oil spill The fate of oil during the first day after an accidental oil spill is still poorly understood, with researchers often arriving on the scene only after several days. New findings from a field experiment carried out in the North Sea provide valuable insight that could help shape the emergency response in the immediate wake of disasters.

Paint dust pollutes the oceans
August 8, 2014 09:51 AM - Erik Stokstad, Science

Even when the sea looks clean, its surface can be flecked with tiny fragments of paint and fiberglass. That's the finding from a study that looked for plastic pollution in the uppermost millimeter of ocean. The microscopic fragments come from the decks and hulls of boats, and they could pose a threat to tiny creatures called zooplankton, which are an important part of the marine food web. The discovery is "continuing to open our eyes to how many small synthetic particles are in the environment," says Kara Law, an oceanographer who studies plastic pollution at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and wasn’t involved in the study.

Can water-polluting drugs have a positive effect on fish?
August 8, 2014 08:13 AM - Editor, ENN

Many studies have shown that personal care products, like toothpaste, shampoo, and other drugs that we use and get into our wastewater have negatively affected fish populations, disrupting their endocrine systems. But can there be any positive effects? A new study shows that one antianxiety drug that made its way into a lake in Sweden has in fact, positively affected the Eurasian perch population, making them bolder, less social, and more active than unexposed fish, ultimately reducing their mortality rates.

Mercury in the oceans increasing
August 6, 2014 05:29 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Although the days of odd behavior among hat makers are a thing of the past, the dangers mercury poses to humans and the environment persist today. Mercury is a naturally occurring element as well as a by-product of such distinctly human enterprises as burning coal and making cement. Estimates of "bioavailable" mercury—forms of the element that can be taken up by animals and humans—play an important role in everything from drafting an international treaty designed to protect humans and the environment from mercury emissions, to establishing public policies behind warnings about seafood consumption.

A Second Use for Cigarette Butts
August 5, 2014 12:10 PM - Editor, ENN

It is estimated that as many as 5.6 trillion used-cigarettes, or 766,571 metric tons, are deposited into the environment worldwide every year. That's a lot of litter, especially when it takes 18 months to 10 years for cigarette filters to degrade! However, these butts may have a newly discovered second use as a group of South Korean scientists have converted these cigarette leftovers into a high-performing material that could be integrated into computers, handheld devices, electrical vehicles and wind turbines.

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