• Arctic Genetic Pollution Effects

    The cold frozen north and south are pristine and innocent. Even the people who live there. People living in Arctic areas can be more sensitive to pollutants due to their genetics, says researcher Arja Rautio at the Center for Arctic Medicine in the University of Oulu, Finland. This is unfortunate since the northernmost areas of Europe are receiving more harmful chemicals. Scientists believe climate change may be a culprit as air and water mass movements push some of these undesirable chemicals towards the Arctic. "In real life, people are exposed to lots of chemicals," says Rautio, who leads studies into the human health effects from contaminants and the influence of climate change in a EU-funded project called ArcRisk, "and I think the people of the north are exposed to higher levels than for example the general population in Europe." >> Read the Full Article
  • US Drinking Water: D+!

    How safe is our drinking water? The water system especially in our older cities has been around for a long time being patched and repaired. The How safe is our drinking water? The water system especially in our older cities has been around for a long time being patched and repaired. The American Society of Civil Engineers and its members are committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and as such, are equally committed to improving the nation’s public infrastructure. To achieve that goal, they have recently issued a Report Card on the condition and performance of the nation’s infrastructure. They are experts at how it is done and they give the American system a D+! At the dawn of the 21st century, much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States. The quality of drinking water in the United States remains universally high, however. Even though pipes and mains are frequently more than 100 years old and in need of replacement, outbreaks of disease attributable to drinking water are rare. >> Read the Full Article
  • German Research Institute Drops Canadian Tar Sands Project

    The Helmholtz-Association of German Research Centres has just backed out of a CAN$25 million research project funded by the Canadian government that would study sustainable solutions for tar sands pollution. Canada is home to the world's third largest crude reserves in the form of tar sands. Tar sands are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit and are considered part of the world's oil reserves as new technology can extract oil from these sands. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Looming Threat of Water Scarcity

    Some 1.2 billion people—almost a fifth of the world—live in areas of physical water scarcity, while another 1.6 billion face what can be called economic water shortage. The situation is only expected to worsen as population growth, climate change, investment and management shortfalls, and inefficient use of existing resources restrict the amount of water available to people, according to Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). It is estimated that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, with almost half of the world living in conditions of water stress. Water scarcity has several definitions. Physical scarcity occurs when there is not enough water to meet demand; its symptoms include severe environmental degradation, declining groundwater, and unequal water distribution. Economic water scarcity occurs when there is a lack of investment and proper management to meet the demand of people who do not have the financial means to use existing water sources; the symptoms in this case normally include poor infrastructure.Large parts of Africa suffer from economic water scarcity. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Red-Dead water conveyer can avoid a dead end

    The Red-Dead canal could take a small step forward in light of projected environmental impacts and other constraints, says Batir Wardam. After a delay of more than six months, the World Bank has finally released the final drafts of the feasibility and environmental assessment studies for the controversial Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, designed to channel some 1.2 billion cubic metres of water 180 kilometres from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Smart Grid and Electric Car Charging

    Widespread adoption of electric vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Some are worried that the electric grid will be stressed leading to a decrease in its reliability. In related news today, Battelle and AeroVironment have a technology that will address this concern, and help EV's charge when the grid is most able to support charging. This technology is the subject of a commercial license agreement between Battelle and AeroVironment, Inc., of Monrovia, Calif. The technology may also ultimately result in lower costs for plug-in electric vehicle owners. Battelle operates the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. AeroVironment will use a portion of the licensed technology in a new prototype version of its Level II charging systems. >> Read the Full Article
  • Housing improvements linked to good health

    Having enough suitable living space is a key determinant of health outcomes around the world, a review of studies on housing improvements for health has found. Initiatives targeting housing improvements at the most impoverished people and those in the poorest health were more effective than generic schemes targeting entire areas, the review found. >> Read the Full Article
  • Warnings of global ecological tipping points may be overstated

    There's little evidence that the Earth is nearing a global ecological tipping point, according to a new Trends in Ecology and Evolution paper that is bound to be controversial. The authors argue that despite numerous warnings that the Earth is headed toward an ecological tipping point due to environmental stressors, such as habitat loss or climate change, it's unlikely this will occur anytime soon—at least not on land. The paper comes with a number of caveats, including that a global tipping point could occur in marine ecosystems due to ocean acidification from burning fossil fuels. In addition, regional tipping points, such as the Arctic ice melt or the Amazon rainforest drying out, are still of great concern. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Bangladesh Arsenic Problem

    Arsenic contamination of the groundwater in Bangladesh is a serious problem. In the Ganges Delta, the affected wells are typically more than 20 meters and less than 100 meters deep. Groundwater closer to the surface typically has spent a shorter time in the ground, therefore likely absorbing a lower concentration of arsenic; water deeper than 100 meters is exposed to much older sediments which have already been depleted of arsenic. Human activities are not the primary cause of arsenic found in groundwater in Bangladesh. A team of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Barnard College, Columbia University, University of Dhaka, Desert Research Institute and University of Tennessee found that the arsenic in groundwater in the region is part of a natural process that predates any recent human activity, such as intensive pumping. >> Read the Full Article
  • Global Warming Will Open Arctic Shipping Routes

    Who said the effects of global warming are all negative? According to new research conducted by UCLA, melting sea ice during the late summer will make Arctic shipping channels much more accessible. The economy of the world depends on shipping as nearly all of a country’s imports and exports are transported across the global by these large ships. Canals like the Suez and Panama have helped reduce the length of certain shipping routes, but nothing has been done in the Arctic region because of the unreliable weather and treacherous ice. >> Read the Full Article