Pollution

Land-use change possibly produces more Carbon Dioxide than assumed so far
January 31, 2017 01:08 PM - Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

CO2 emissions caused by changes of land use may possibly be higher than assumed so far. This is the outcome of a study made by the team of Professor Almut Arneth of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). The work presented in Nature Geoscience (DOI: 10.1038/NGEO2882) for the first time considers processes, such as slash-and–burn agriculture or different ways of managing forests and cropland. The results also imply that reforestation is important to increase the ecologically important CO2 uptake by land ecosystems.

Substance in crude oil harms fish hearts, could affect humans as well
January 31, 2017 09:47 AM - Taylor Kubota

Research from Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station has identified a substance in oil that’s to blame for the cardiotoxicity seen in fish exposed to crude oil spills. More than a hazard for marine life exposed to oil, the contaminant this team identified is abundant in air pollution and could pose a global threat to human health.

Role of terrestrial biosphere in counteracting climate change may have been underestimated
January 30, 2017 11:41 AM - University of Birmingham

New research suggests that the capacity of the terrestrial biosphere to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) may have been underestimated in past calculations due to certain land-use changes not being fully taken into account.

Globe-trotting pollutants raise some cancer risks four times higher than predicted
January 27, 2017 02:38 PM - Oregon State University

A new way of looking at how pollutants ride through the atmosphere has quadrupled the estimate of global lung cancer risk from a pollutant caused by combustion, to a level that is now double the allowable limit recommended by the World Health Organization.

The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition online, showed that tiny floating particles can grow semi-solid around pollutants, allowing them to last longer and travel much farther than what previous global climate models predicted.

Decarbonising the UK economy
January 26, 2017 10:24 AM - Joe Ware, Ecologist

This week the UK Government published its long awaited industrial strategy, marking a distinctive break from the previous Conservative regime. Gone is David Cameron's more laissez faire attitude to managing the economy.  In its place is a more proactive approach, which seeks to stimulate industry with targeted investment.  Taking advantage of the greater flexibility afforded by freedom from the EU's state aid rules the plan sees some exciting developments in the decarbonisation of the UK economy.

Agricultural fires in Brazil harm infant health, a warning for the developing world
January 26, 2017 10:02 AM - Michael Hotchkiss via Princeton University

Pollution from the controlled fires that burn across Brazil's São Paulo state during the sugarcane-harvesting season has a negative impact on infant health nearby. But the health of those same infants likely benefits from the economic opportunities the fires bring to their parents.

Researchers at Princeton and Duke universities gathered information from satellites, pollution monitors and birth records to untangle those competing influences and accurately measure the impact of pollution from the fires. They found that exposure to pollution from the fires in the last few months of gestation leads to earlier birth and smaller babies, and they found some evidence of increased fetal mortality. Conditions in early life, including in utero, have been shown to affect children's long-term outcomes, not only in terms of health but also their educational and economic success.

Floating towards water treatment
January 26, 2017 09:44 AM - Kaine Korzekwa via American Society of Agronomy

Floating wetlands may seem odd but are perfectly natural. They occur when mats of vegetation break free from the shore of a body of water. That got ecological engineers curious about how they affect the water they bob up and down in.

A group from Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania and the University of Oklahoma, including researcher William Strosnider, has found that the floating wetlands show promise for water treatment. They engineered four different floating treatment wetlands designs using different materials and wetland plants.

Peering into China's thick haze of air pollution
January 25, 2017 10:16 AM - C&EN

As 2016 gave way to 2017, residents of Beijing, Tianjin, and many other northern Chinese cities suffered through the longest stretch of stifling air pollution ever recorded in the country. They choked through eight continuous days of thick, light-blocking haze, starting Dec. 30, 2016. This stretch of bad air began only a week after people in 70 northern Chinese cities were enveloped by similar days of haze composed of high concentrations of particles less than 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5).

New technique IDs micropollutants in New York waterways
January 23, 2017 04:28 PM - Blaine Friedlander

Cornell engineers hope that clean water runs deep. They have developed a new technique to test for a wide range of micropollutants in lakes, rivers and other potable water sources that vastly outperforms conventional methods.

“Water quality monitoring is conventionally done by narrowly investigating one or a few contaminants at a time. We aimed to develop an analytical method that would be as broad as possible,” said Damian Helbling, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. Helbling and Amy Pochodylo, M.S. ’14, published their research as the cover story in the journal Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology.

Targeting Cookstove Pollution Using Supercomputers and NASA Satellites
January 23, 2017 04:02 PM - University of Colorado At Boulder

New air quality research is investigating a major, but often overlooked contributor to outdoor pollution and climate: burning of solid fuel for cooking and heating.

Cookstove studies typically evaluate how they contribute to indoor air quality issues in houses where solid fuel is frequently used for cooking and heating. A new paper from the University of Colorado Boulder appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has taken a different approach, going outside the home and evaluating how cookstoves impact ambient air pollution and climate.

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