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Seasonal allergies may be worse than usual this year
April 3, 2013 01:46 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
Break out those tissues and symptom relief pills, allergy season is upon us. And unfortunately, experts are saying that as the weather warms this spring, allergy sufferers are likely to be more affected than in past years. Seasonal allergies occur when outdoor molds release their spores or when trees, grasses, and weeds release pollen into the air in an effort to fertilize other plants. When we inhale this air, our bodies work to fight off these airborne invaders, which according to the US Food and Drug Administration leads to nearly 36 million Americans suffering each year from these seasonal allergies.
Oil Platform Effect on Fish
April 3, 2013 10:28 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Fishes residing near oil platforms in southern California have similar contaminant levels as fishes in nearby natural sites, according to two recent reports by the U.S. Geological Survey, which were conducted to assist the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in understanding potential consequences of offshore energy development. Since the underwater portion of many offshore oil and gas platforms often provides a habitat to a large number of fishes and invertebrates, some stakeholders have called for ocean managers to consider a "rigs-to-reefs" option during the decommissioning phase of a platform. This option would maintain some of the submerged structure to function as an artificial reef after oil and gas production has ended. The findings of this study address questions regarding how the industrial legacy of this kind of artificial reef may affect local fish populations.
Ontario Almost Totally off Coal Generation
April 2, 2013 02:15 PM - Keith Schneider, Yale Environment360
Ontario is on the verge of becoming the first industrial region in North America to eliminate all coal-fired electrical generation. Here’s how Canada's most populous province did it — and what the U.S. and others can learn from it. By most measures of environmental policy and progress, Ontario, Canada ranks well. Over the last half-century, Canada’s most populous province required cities and industries to treat every gallon of wastewater, dramatically reduced the level of sulfur and other pollutants that caused acid rain, and convinced the big and politically powerful pulp and paper industry to install state-of-the-art emissions control equipment.
April 2, 2013 09:58 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
NOx. such as nitric oxide, comes from many sources. It is a misconception that it is only the result of combustion devices. There are natural sources such as thunderstorms and ordinary plant life. Changes in agricultural practices could reduce soil emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide and the atmospheric pollutant nitric oxide, according to a new study by scientists at the University of California, Davis. "Agriculture is the main source of nitrous oxide globally, so this study is a starting point to help us understand how to manage and control it," said UC Davis professor of soil biogeochemistry William Horwath, whose lab conducted the study.
The Next Great Urban Vehicle
April 2, 2013 09:01 AM - Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels
Many of the frustrations that come from living in big cities are ultimately tied to our vehicles. Dirty and dusty air, foggy skies, crowded streets, fights over parking spots and traffic jams can all damper our moods. For many, other methods of personal transportation, such as bicycles and Segways, have become preferred solutions. Taking easy transportation into a new direction, Israeli-native Amir Ziad invented a personal transportation vehicle called muvE that picks up where the Segway and the electric scooter left off.
Extreme Algal Bloom
April 1, 2013 03:35 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae (typically microscopic) in an aquatic system. Algal blooms may occur in freshwater as well as marine environments. Typically, only one or a small number of phytoplankton species are involved, and some blooms may be recognized by discoloration of the water resulting from the high density of pigmented cells. Algal bloom concentrations may reach millions of cells per milliliter. Algal blooms are often green, but they can also be other colors such as yellow-brown or red, depending on the species of algae. A 2011 record-breaking algae bloom in Lake Erie was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures, scientists have discovered. The Carnegie researchers also predict that, unless agricultural policies change, the lake will continue to experience extreme blooms.
Pipeline Ruptured in Arkansas, Major Oil Spill
April 1, 2013 11:54 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
A leak from the Pegasus pipeline was discovered near Mayflower, Arkansas on Friday, leading to an estimated spill of over 10,000 barrels of Canadian Dilbit. Reports state that the pipeline was carrying Wabasca Heavy crude from western Canada when it ruptured. Wabasca Heavy is a type of diluted bitumen (a type of crude oil that is heavier than most conventional crude oil) from Alberta's tar sands region.
Pharmaceuticals in Streams
April 1, 2013 09:24 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Pharmaceuticals commonly found in the environment are found in streams, with unknown impacts on aquatic life and water quality. So reports a new Ecological Applications paper, which highlights the ecological cost of pharmaceutical waste and the need for more research into environmental impacts. Pharmaceuticals, or prescription and over-the-counter medications made for human use or veterinary or agribusiness purposes, are found often in the environment. Antibiotics,vitamins, supplements, and sexual enhancement drugs are contained in this group. These products typically enter the environment when passed through the body and then entering into the ground or sewer lines, or when disposed of in the trash, septic tank, or sewage system.
New Emissions/Gas Mileage Standards
March 30, 2013 07:51 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Once again, the EPA is tightening the fuel efficiency standards for autos and light trucks. It is also tightening the emissions limits that new vehicles will have to meet. This is, in general, a good thing since it will reduce gas consumption, and also reduce air pollutant emissions. Of course, not everyone is happy about this action. And the economic analysis of the cost/benefits seems to be overly optimistic. According to the EPA, the proposal supports efforts by states to reduce harmful levels of smog and soot and eases their ability to attain and maintain science-based national ambient air quality standards to protect public health, while also providing flexibilities for small businesses, including hardship provisions and additional lead time for compliance. EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said "Today’s proposed standards — which will save thousands of lives and protect the most vulnerable -- are the next step in our work to protect public health and will provide the automotive industry with the certainty they need to offer the same car models in all 50 states."
A new report demonstrates that emissions markets can increase renewable energy, decrease greenhouse gases (GHGs) and grow the economy. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first U.S. market-based regulatory program designed to reduce GHGs. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce the power sector’s CO2 emissions. There are roughly 160 power plants covered by RGGI. Under the program, states sell emission allowances through auctions and invest the proceeds in consumer benefits including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other clean energy technologies. In addition to spurring clean tech innovation and reducing GHGs, RGGI is creating green jobs.