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Pollution

New ozone-destroying gases on the rise
February 17, 2015 08:07 AM - University of Leeds

Scientists report that chemicals that are not controlled by a United Nations treaty designed to protect the Ozone Layer are contributing to ozone depletion. In the new study, published today in Nature Geoscience, the scientists also report the atmospheric abundance of one of these ‘very short-lived substances’ (VSLS) is growing rapidly.

When you stop at a red light you are exposed to higher levels of air pollution
February 13, 2015 08:36 AM - University of Surrey via EurekAlert.

UK commuters spend an average of about 1.5 hours a day at the wheel. Road vehicles in particular are known to emit polluting nanoparticles which contribute to respiratory and heart diseases. Now, researchers at the University of Surrey have found that where drivers spend just 2% of their journey time passing through traffic intersections managed by lights, this short duration contributes to about 25% of total exposure to these harmful particles. 

The team monitored drivers' exposure to air pollutants at various points of a journey. Signalised traffic intersections were found to be high pollution hot-spots due to the frequent changes in driving conditions.

New study calculates magnitude of plastic waste going into the ocean
February 12, 2015 03:30 PM - Stephanie Schupska, University of Georgia

A plastic grocery bag cartwheels down the beach until a gust of wind spins it into the ocean. In 192 coastal countries, this scenario plays out over and over again as discarded beverage bottles, food wrappers, toys and other bits of plastic make their way from estuaries, seashores and uncontrolled landfills to settle in the world's seas.

Children in cities have increased risk of neurological damage due to air pollution
February 12, 2015 08:47 AM - University of Montana

Pollution in many cities threatens the brain development in children. Findings by University of Montana Professor Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, MA, MD, Ph.D., and her team of researchers reveal that children living in megacities are at increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Calderón-Garcidueñas’ findings are detailed in a paper titled “Air pollution and children: Neural and tight junction antibodies and combustion metals, the role of barrier breakdown and brain immunity in neurodegeneration.” 

Autoimmune disease risk found related to mercury exposure
February 10, 2015 07:03 AM -

One of the greatest risk factors for autoimmunity among women of childbearing age may be associated with exposure to mercury such as through seafood, a new University of Michigan study says.

The findings, which appear in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that mercury - even at low levels generally considered safe - was associated with autoimmunity. Autoimmune disorders, which cause the body's immune system to attack healthy cells by mistake, affects nearly 50 million Americans and predominately women.

Earliest evidence of human-produced air pollution linked to Spanish conquest of the Inca
February 9, 2015 03:55 PM - Pam Frost Gorder, The Ohio State University

In the 16th century, during its conquest of South America, the Spanish Empire forced countless Incas to work extracting silver from the mountaintop mines of Potosí, in what is now Bolivia—then the largest source of silver in the world. The Inca already knew how to refine silver, but in 1572 the Spanish introduced a new technology that boosted production many times over and sent thick clouds of lead dust rising over the Andes for the first time in history. Winds carried some of that pollution 500 miles northwest into Peru, where tiny remnants of it settled on the Quelccaya Ice Cap. There it stayed—buried under hundreds of years of snow and ice—until researchers from The Ohio State University found it in 2003.

Why you should throw out your old TV
February 6, 2015 02:44 PM - Nsikan Akpan, Science/AAAS

We may think we’re a culture that ditches our worn technology at the first sight of something shiny and new, but a new study reveals that we keep using our old gadgets well after they go out of style. That’s bad news for the environment—and our wallets—as these outdated devices suck up much more energy than their newer counterparts.

Airline industry makes strides in adopting sustainable biofuels
February 5, 2015 08:38 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Air travel emits more than 650 million metric tons of carbon pollution annually – equivalent to the pollution from 136 million cars – making the increased use of sustainable biofuels a critical to reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. According to a first-of-its-kind scorecard released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the industry is making strides in adopting sustainable biofuels, with some airlines doing better than others as they incorporate these new fuels into their fleets. Air France/KLM is by far the leader of the pack.

Seabirds suffer from pollutant exposure
February 4, 2015 08:38 AM - Shayna Wilson, MONGABAY.COM

Seabirds, aerial ocean predators, are known to amass harmful contaminants over their lifespan. Scientists believe this exposure to pollutants, such as blood mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), and persistent organic pollutants (POPs), negatively impacts survival rates as well as reproduction, therefore contributing to large-scale population declines. Although previously these assumptions were largely theoretical, recent research in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B involving blood samples from wandering albatrosses points to new conclusions. 

Study Finds Leaks in Boston's Natural Gas Pipelines
February 2, 2015 04:37 PM - S.E. Smith, Care2

A team of researchers led by Kathryn McKain of Harvard University has recently discovered that approximately three percent of the natural gas delivered to Boston leaks directly into the atmosphere, taking with it a heavy load of methane, a known greenhouse gas. Their study doesn’t just have significant environmental implications: It’s estimated that the city is losing around $90 million to leaks every year. Correcting leaks is a relatively straightforward task, though it would require some investment in natural gas infrastructure and consumer education. However, these costs would be mitigated by the substantial savings offered if Boston was able to cut down on its methane problem.

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