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Heinz tomato ketchup will soon come in paper bottles to help the environment

Heinz tomato ketchup will soon come in paper bottles to help the environment


Whether it’s accompanying chips or slathered on a burger, ketchup is our trusted companion as BBQ season approaches.


But it seems the popular condiment might have a new look very soon.

That’s because Heinz plans to roll out completely renewable paper bottles, to help the environment.

The new bottles will be made with wood pulp and will be available alongside the current glass and plastic options.

And the good news is that these paper bottles will not affect the taste of the ketchup.

The new containers will be made in partnership with Pulpex – which also created a paper bottle for whisky brand Jonnie Walker – and are part of Heinz’s long-term plan to make all of its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.


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Scientists created biodegradable food packaging that will eliminate harmful bacteria build-up in foods

SCIENTISTS CREATED BIODEGRADABLE FOOD PACKAGING THAT WILL ELIMINATE HARMFUL BACTERIA BUILD-UP IN FOODS


Recently, scientists at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the US have developed bacteria-killing biodegradable food packaging that addresses two major concerns of the food industry today – food waste and eco-friendliness.

The traditional Starbucks disposable cup.

STARBUCKS IS PLANNING TO PHASE OUT ITS ICONIC CUPS


“Our cup is ubiquitous, and we love that,” said Michael Kobori, Starbucks chief sustainability officer. “But it is also this ubiquitous symbol of a throwaway society.”


It’s worth pointing out that Heinz already uses 30% recycled plastic and recyclable caps – and the company aim to have zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Kraft Heinz CEO, Miguel Patricio, said: ‘Packaging waste is an industry-wide challenge that we must all do our part to address.

‘That is why we are committed to taking steps to explore sustainable packaging solutions across our brands at Kraft Heinz, offering consumers more choices.

‘This new HEINZ bottle is one example of how we are applying creativity and innovation to explore new ways to provide consumers with the products they know and love while also thinking sustainably.’

Source:

Lizzie Thomson at Metro



Pollution is still responsible for around 1 in every 6 deaths worldwide, say scientists

Pollution is still responsible for around 1 in every 6 deaths worldwide, say scientists


Around 9 million people a year are dying from worsening air pollution and toxic lead poisoning, according to scientists.


The staggering death count has continued since 2015, despite modest progress in some countries, a new study finds.

In fact, the data on global mortality and pollution levels indicates a 7 per cent increase in these avoidable deaths from 2015 to 2019, driven by expanding industries, fossil fuels and urbanisation.

“We’re sitting in the stew pot and slowly burning,” said Richard Fuller, study co-author and head of the global nonprofit Pure Earth. But unlike climate change, malaria, or HIV, “we haven’t given [environmental pollution] much focus.”

An earlier version of the work published in 2017 also estimated the death toll from pollution at roughly 9 million per year — or about one of every six deaths worldwide — and the cost to the global economy at up to $4.6 trillion (€4.4 trillion) per year.

That puts pollution on par with smoking in terms of global deaths. COVID-19, by comparison, has killed about 6.7 million people globally since the pandemic began.

For their most recent study, published in the online journal Lancet Planetary Health, the authors analysed 2019 data from the Global Burden of Disease, an ongoing study by the University of Washington that assesses overall pollution exposure and calculates mortality risk.

The new analysis looks more specifically at the causes of pollution – separating traditional contaminants such as indoor smoke or sewage from more modern pollutants, like industrial air pollution and toxic chemicals

African countries are the most impacted by polluted indoor air and water

A man sells plantain chips near a bus with smoke seen from its exhaust at a bus park in Abuja, Nigeria.Afolabi Sotunde/REUTERS

Deaths from traditional pollutants are declining globally, but they remain a major problem in African nations.

Tainted water, soil and dirty indoor air put Chad, the Central African Republic and Niger as the three countries with the most pollution-related deaths, according to data adjusted for population.

State programmes to cut indoor air pollution and improvements in sanitation have helped to curb death tolls in some places. In Ethiopia and Nigeria, these efforts caused related deaths to drop by two-thirds between 2000 and 2019.

Meanwhile, the Indian government in 2016 began offering to replace wood-burning stoves with gas stove connections.

What are the new pollutants to watch out for?

Deaths caused by exposure to modern pollutants are “just skyrocketing”, says co-author Rachael Kupka, executive director of the New York-based Global Alliance on Health and Pollution.

Fossil fuel emissions, heavy metals, agrochemicals and other pollutants have risen by 66 per cent since 2000.

When it comes to outdoor air pollution, some major capital cities have seen some success, including in Bangkok, China, and Mexico City, the authors said.

But in smaller cities, pollution levels continue to climb.

Residents fill water containers and wash clothes from municipal water pipes alongside a polluted water channel at a slum in Kolkata, India.RUPAK DE CHOWDHURI/REUTERS

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A garbage collector gathering recyclable plastic at the Ban Tarn landfill site in the Thai province of Chiang Mai.

UN AGREES TO CREATE WORLD’S FIRST-EVER PLASTICS POLLUTION TREATY IN A BLOW TO BIG OIL


The United Nations approved a landmark agreement to create the world’s first-ever global plastic pollution treaty on Wednesday, describing it as the most significant environmental deal since the 2015 Paris climate accord.

SCIENTISTS FIND THERE ARE 70% FEWER POLLINATORS, DUE TO AIR POLLUTION


Air pollution significantly reduces pollination by confusing butterflies and bees, lessening their ability to sniff out crops and wildflowers


Bulgaria has the highest number of pollution-related deaths in Europe

The study offered a list of the 10 countries most affected by pollution-related deaths, based on their findings on mortality adjusted for population. One European country made the list.

In full, they are:

  • 10. Burkina Faso
  • 9. Bulgaria
  • 8. Lesotho
  • 7. North Korea
  • 6. South Africa
  • 5. Somalia
  • 4. Solomon Islands
  • 3. Niger
  • 2. Central African Republic
  • 1. Chad

Source:

Lottie Limb at euronews.green



‘Forever chemicals’ may have polluted 20m acres of US cropland, study says

‘Forever chemicals’ may have polluted 20m acres of US cropland, study says


PFAS-tainted sewage sludge is used as fertilizer in fields and report finds that about 20m acres of cropland could be contaminated.


About 20m acres of cropland in the United States may be contaminated from PFAS-tainted sewage sludge that has been used as fertilizer, a new report estimates.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 9,000 compounds used to make products heat-, water- or stain-resistant. Known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t naturally break down, they have been linked to cancer, thyroid disruption, liver problems, birth defects, immunosuppression and more.

Dozens of industries use PFAS in thousands of consumer products, and often discharge the chemicals into the nation’s sewer system.

The analysis, conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), is an attempt to understand the scope of cropland contamination stemming from sewage sludge, or biosolids. Regulators don’t require sludge to be tested for PFAS or closely track where its spread, and public health advocates warn the practice is poisoning the nation’s food supply.

“We don’t know the full scope of the contamination problem created by PFAS in sludge, and we may never know, because EPA has not made it a priority for states and local governments to track, test and report on,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s legislative policy director.

All sewage sludge is thought to contain the dangerous chemicals, and the compounds have recently been found to be contaminating crops, cattle, water and humans on farms where biosolids were spread.

Sludge is a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process that’s a mix of human excrement and industrial waste, like PFAS, that’s discharged from industry’s pipes. Sludge disposal can be expensive so the waste management industry is increasingly repackaging it as fertilizer because excrement is rich in plant nutrients.

EWG found Ohio keeps the most precise records of any state, and sludge has been applied to 5% of its farmland since 2011. Extrapolating that across the rest of the country would mean about 20m acres are contaminated with at least some level of PFAS. Faber called the estimate “conservative”.

EPA records show over 19bn pounds of sludge has been used as fertilizer since 2016 in the 41 states where the agency tracks the amount of sludge that’s spread, but not the location. It’s estimated that 60% of the nation’s sludge is spread on cropland or other fields annually.


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THESE SEED-FIRING DRONES ARE PLANTING 40,000 TREES EVERY DAY TO FIGHT DEFORESTATION


“Each of our drones can plant over 40,000 seed pods per day and they fly autonomously,” says Andrew Walker, CEO and co-founder of AirSeed Technologies.

THE FARMER TRYING TO SAVE ITALY’S ANCIENT OLIVE TREES


A fast-spreading bacteria could cause an olive-oil apocalypse.


The consequences are evident in the only two states to consistently check sludge and farms for PFAS contamination. In Maine, PFAS-tainted fields have already forced several farms to shut down. The chemicals end up in crops and cattle, and the public health toll exacted by contaminated food in Maine is unknown. Meanwhile, the state is investigating about 700 more fields for PFAS pollution.

“There’s no easy way to shop around this problem,” Faber said. “We shouldn’t be using PFAS-contaminated sludge to grow food and feed for animals.”

Michigan faces a similar situation as it uncovers contaminated beef and farms, and growing evidence links sludge to public health problems and contaminated drinking water.

The health cost of using sludge outweighs the benefits, advocates say. Many have questioned the sense in spending billions of dollars to pull sludge out of water only to inject the substance into the nation’s food supply, and calls for a ban on the practice are growing louder.

“The EPA could today require treatment plants to test sludge for PFAS and warn farmers that they may be contaminating fields, but it has refused to do so,” Faber said.

Source:

Tom Perkins at The Guardian



UN says ‘imminent’ Yemen oil spill would cost $20 bn to clean up

UN says ‘imminent’ Yemen oil spill would cost $20 bn to clean up


The United Nations warned Monday that it would cost $20 billion to clean up an oil spill in the event of the “imminent” break-up of an oil tanker abandoned off Yemen.


“Our recent visit to (the FSO Safer) with technical experts indicates that the vessel is imminently going to break up,” the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, said ahead of a conference, hosted by the UN and The Netherlands, to raise funds for an emergency operation to prevent an oil spill.

The 45-year-old FSO Safer, long used as a floating oil storage platform with 1.1 million barrels of crude on board, has been moored off the rebel-held Yemeni port of Hodeida since 2015, without being serviced.

“The impact of a spill will be catastrophic,” Gressly continued at a briefing in Amman. “The effect on the environment would be tremendous… our estimate is that $20 billion would be spent just to clean the oil spill.”

The UN official had earlier announced on Twitter that the Netherlands would host on Wednesday a pledging conference for the international body’s plan to avert the crisis.


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THESE SEED-FIRING DRONES ARE PLANTING 40,000 TREES EVERY DAY TO FIGHT DEFORESTATION


“Each of our drones can plant over 40,000 seed pods per day and they fly autonomously,” says Andrew Walker, CEO and co-founder of AirSeed Technologies.

THE FARMER TRYING TO SAVE ITALY’S ANCIENT OLIVE TREES


A fast-spreading bacteria could cause an olive-oil apocalypse.


Last month, the UN said it was seeking nearly $80 million for its operation. It warned of “a humanitarian and ecological catastrophe centred on a country already decimated by more than seven years of war”.

It said that the emergency part of a two-stage operation would see the toxic cargo pumped from the storage platform to a temporary replacement vessel at a cost of $79.6 million.

Gressly estimated that a total of $144 million would be needed for the full operation, reiterating that $80 million was needed “to secure the oil safely in the initial phase”.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed directly or indirectly in Yemen’s seven-year war, while millions have been displaced in what the UN calls the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.

Source:

AFP via France24



EU citizens could claim damages for harmful pollution levels, says court adviser

EU citizens could claim damages for harmful pollution levels, says court adviser


European Union citizens may be able to claim compensation from governments if their health has been affected by excessive air pollution, a top court adviser announced this week.


Juliane Kokott, Advocate General to the European Court of Justice, said EU governments may be held liable if they have failed to meet air quality promises.

The opinion came after a Paris citizen requested €21 million in damages from France, claiming that growing air pollution in the French capital had damaged his health.

The plaintiff had argued that the French state was liable because it did not ensure that EU limits were respected.

EU governments may be held liable if they have failed to meet air quality promises.

Kokott agreed that France could be sued even though it was difficult to prove a “direct causal link” between the serious breach of the rules on air quality and specific damage to health.

She also noted that poorer communities – who live and work in highly polluted areas – particularly need judicial protection.

Pollution is a problem in Paris.Canva

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SCIENTISTS FIND THERE ARE 70% FEWER POLLINATORS, DUE TO AIR POLLUTION


Air pollution significantly reduces pollination by confusing butterflies and bees, lessening their ability to sniff out crops and wildflowers.

WHO SAYS 99% OF WORLD’S POPULATION BREATHES POOR-QUALITY AIR


The U.N. health agency says nearly everybody in the world breathes air that doesn’t meet its standards for air quality, calling for more action to reduce fossil-fuel use, which generates pollutants that cause respiratory and blood-flow problems and lead to millions of preventable deaths each year.


But Kokott added that the Member States could rid themselves of blame by proving that the air pollution would still have occurred even if they had adopted sufficient air quality plans on time.

The opinions of Advocate Generals are not binding but are usually followed by the Luxembourg-based court.

In 2019, the European Court of Justice found that France had “systematically and persistently” exceeded the annual limit for nitrogen dioxide since 2010.

In addition, France’s top administrative court last year fined President Emmanuel Macron’s government a record €10 million for failing to reduce air pollution to acceptable levels.

Source:

euronews.green



Recycled shrimp nets used to remove marine debris

Recycled shrimp nets used to remove marine debris


University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant has devised a creative way to clean up the Georgia coast and provide financial support to local commercial shrimpers whose income was limited during the pandemic.


Through Trawl to Trash, funded by the National Sea Grant College Program, commercial shrimpers are recruited to sew bags made of recycled shrimp net material that can be used to collect marine debris.

Two fishermen work to create a bag for Trawl to Trash. (Photo by Shannah Montgomery)

“It’s exciting to find a new purpose for these trawl nets and who better to make the bags than the shrimpers who have spent countless hours mending their nets ahead of shrimping season?” said Dodie Sanders, marine educator at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, and lead on the Trawl to Trash project.

The shrimpers earn $20 for each bag they sew.

One fisherman, Jonathan Bennett, used the money he earned from the nets to pay the people working for him.

“It was extra money, it helped us out,” said Bennett, a fifth-generation commercial shrimper from Brunswick, who now captains his own boat, the Flying Cloud. Bennett has been shrimping since he was 4. His grandfather taught him how to repair the shrimp nets.

“For years I was the only man on the boat who knew how to sew so I got pretty good at it,” he said. He and his grandfather, who is still a shrimper, joined the Trawl to Trash project during the off season when their boat was being repaired.

(Photo by Shannah Montgomery)

In an effort to produce more bags for outreach efforts, Sanders teamed up with the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium to recruit additional shrimpers into the program. As of January 2022, 15 shrimpers in both Georgia and South Carolina have earned a total of $30,700 for 1,535 bags.

“This opportunity came along at a great time, in that shrimpers are making the bags in between the peak of the brown shrimp season and white shrimp season, when landings and income are lower than the rest of the year,” said Graham Gaines, living marine resources program specialist at the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium and partner on the project.

With more than a thousand bags in hand, Sanders and other educators at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island have been working to distribute them to the public through education programs and community science efforts.

“We’re educating and engaging ecotour guides, students, recreational boaters beach goers and others who can make a difference by alleviating the impacts of marine debris,” Sanders said.


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THE OCEAN CLEANUP DEPLOYS FULL-SCALE SYSTEM TO THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH


The Ocean Cleanup has deployed its first full-scale system designed to clean-up ocean plastics to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Scientists have found what could be a 'secret weapon' in the battle against climate change

SCIENTISTS HAVE DISCOVERED A MICROSCOPIC OCEAN PREDATOR WITH A TASTE FOR CARBON


The single-celled microbe, which is capable of photosynthesis as well as hunting and eating prey, could be “a secret weapon in battle against climate change”.


As part of their outreach effort, the team launched a Marine Debris Community Science Program, which engages volunteers in removing marine debris from barrier islands and salt marshes along the Georgia coast while tracking what they collect using the Marine Debris Tracker App.

Since April 2021, community scientists involved in the program have conducted more than 25 marine debris cleanups across three sites on the Georgia coast and collected thousands of items.

They are also working with ecotour guides who have been certified through Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s Coastal Awareness and Responsible Ecotourism program. The guides are providing bags to their customers and encouraging them to collect debris while exploring Georgia’s beaches and barrier islands.

This summer, educators will deliver hands-on after-school programs to Boys and Girls Clubs in Chatham and Glynn counties, educating the next generation about marine debris and encouraging them to make a difference by using the Trawl to Trash bags to clean up their communities.

“These efforts illustrate and reinforce the importance of building community capacity and encouraging behavior change as a way of supporting the long-term prevention of marine debris,” Sanders said.

Source:

Emily Kenworthy at UGA Today



Wearing Polyester Clothes Sheds More Microplastic Fibers Than Washing

Wearing Polyester Clothes Sheds More Microplastic Fibers Than Washing


Back in December 2019, shoppers were warned about purchasing Christmas jumpers as they are significantly damaging to the environment and are typically made from plastic fibers.


These fast fashion sweaters shed hundreds of thousands of microfibers per wash. Now, new research has shown that just wearing them could release more microfibers than washing them!

The recent study was conducted by scientists from IPCB-CNR (the University of Plymouth and the Institute for Polymers, Composites, & Biomaterials of the National Research Council of Italy.) The team compared the amounts of fibers released from four different items of polyester clothing when worn or washed.

Dr. Francesca De Falco, the study’s lead author and researcher at IPCB-CNR, said:

More evidence has been accumulating on the presence of synthetic microfibres not only in aquatic environments but also in atmospheric ones. That is why we decided to design this set of experiments to study microfibre release by garments to both media. This is a type of pollution that should be mainly fought at its source, the fabric itself, but we investigated the influence of different textile parameters on the release.

For the study, published in Environmental Science and Technology, the researchers washed each item of clothing in a medium-warm at 40°C (104°F) cycle and measured the number of fibers shed. Overall, between 700 and 4,000 microfibers were released per gram of fabric during a single wash.

Credit: Getty Images

The team had participants take turns wearing duplicates of each of the items of clothing and move around, mimicking real-life activities. Within 20 minutes, wearing the clothes released up to 400 fibers per gram. That’s fast! This means wearing polyester clothes and going about your typical day for 3 hours and 20 minutes can release 4,000 threads, creating as much pollution as washing them. Therefore, while the average person releases roughly 300 million polyester microfibers per year by doing laundry, they release 900 million to the air by merely wearing their clothes.

Dr. De Falco added:

Results have shown that textiles with a very compact structure like woven, with yarns highly twisted and composed of continuous filaments, can release less microfibres to both air and water.

The four items that were tested include a 100% blue polyester t-shirt, a 100% polyester dress, a 100% green polyester blouse, and a 50% cotton and 50% polyester pink sweatshirt. The polyester/cotton garment released the highest quan;tity of microfibers during both wearing and washing, with a woven polyester one releasing the least.


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A MOUNTAIN OF UNSOLD CLOTHING FROM FAST-FASHION RETAILERS IS PILING UP IN THE CHILEAN DESERT


A huge heap of unworn clothing is piling up in Chile’s Atacama desert.

An estimated 39,000 tons of clothes that can’t be sold in the US or Europe end up in Chile yearly.

THIS FABRIC IS HAILED AS ‘ECO-FRIENDLY.’ THE RAINFOREST TELLS A DIFFERENT STORY.


Vast swaths of forest in Indonesia were chopped down through the early 2000s to make way for plantations for the production of viscose rayon and other goods.


Prof. Richard Thompson OBE, chief of the University of Plymouth’s International Marine Litter Research Unit, explained:

The key story here is that the emission of fibers while wearing clothes is likely of a similar order of magnitude as that from washing them. That constitutes a substantial and previously unquantified direct release to the environment. The results also show textile design can strongly influence both release to the air and release due to laundering. That is a crucial message highlighting the importance of sustainable design for the fashion industry.

The fibers of acrylic, nylon, and polyester released by washing are so fine that they seep through the sewage treatment plants and sneak into waterways and oceans, where they pose a danger to marine life. However, the microfibers released from wearing them drift into the air, where they can be toxic for humans or animals to breathe in.

Source:

Luana Steffen at Intelligent Living



WHO says 99% of world’s population breathes poor-quality air

WHO says 99% of world’s population breathes poor-quality air


The U.N. health agency says nearly everybody in the world breathes air that doesn’t meet its standards for air quality, calling for more action to reduce fossil-fuel use, which generates pollutants that cause respiratory and blood-flow problems and lead to millions of preventable deaths each year.


The World Health Organization, about six months after tightening its guidelines on air quality, on Monday issued an update to its database on air quality that draws on information from a growing number of cities, towns and villages across the globe — now over 6,000 municipalities.

WHO said 99% of the global population breathes air that exceeds its air-quality limits and is often rife with particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs, enter the veins and arteries and cause disease. Air quality is poorest in WHO’s eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia regions, followed by Africa, it said.

“After surviving a pandemic, it is unacceptable to still have 7 million preventable deaths and countless preventable lost years of good health due to air pollution,” said Dr. Maria Neira, head of WHO’s department of environment, climate change and health. “Yet too many investments are still being sunk into a polluted environment rather than in clean, healthy air.”


Check your local conditions at the World Air Quality Index


The database, which has traditionally considered two types of particulate matter known as PM2.5 and PM10, for the first time has included ground measurements of nitrogen dioxide. The last version of the database was issued in 2018.

Nitrogen dioxide originates mainly from human-generated burning of fuel, such as through automobile traffic, and is most common in urban areas. Exposure can bring respiratory disease like asthma and symptoms like coughing, wheezing and difficulty in breathing, and more hospital and emergency-room admissions, WHO said. The highest concentrations were found in the eastern Mediterranean region.

On Monday, the east Mediterranean island of Cyprus suffered through high concentrations of atmospheric dust for the third straight day, with some cities experiencing three and nearly four times the 50 micrograms per square meter that authorities consider normal. Officials said the microscopic particles could be especially harmful to young children, the elderly and the ill.

WHO says 99% of world’s population breathes poor-quality air

Image 1 of 8

Workers clean oil from Cavero Beach in the Ventanilla district of Callao, Peru, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. The U.N. health agency said Monday, April 4, 2022, nearly everybody in the world breathes air that doesn’t meet its standards for air quality, calling for more action to reduce fossil-fuel use, which generates pollutants that cause respiratory and blood-flow problems and lead to millions of preventable deaths each year. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia, File)

Particulate matter has many sources, such as transportation, power plants, agriculture, the burning of waste and industry – as well as from natural sources like desert dust. The developing world is particularly hard hit: India had high levels of PM10, while China showed high levels of PM2.5, the database showed.

“Particulate matter, especially PM2.5, is capable of penetrating deep into the lungs and entering the bloodstream, causing cardiovascular, cerebrovascular (stroke) and respiratory impacts,” WHO said. “There is emerging evidence that particulate matter impacts other organs and causes other diseases as well.”


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SATELLITES DISCOVER HUGE AMOUNTS OF UNDECLARED METHANE EMISSIONS


“These are large emissions, and we see quite a lot of them on the global scale, much more than we had expected.”

AUSTRALIA’S “BLACK SUMMER” FIRES DAMAGED THE OZONE LAYER, STUDY REVEALS


Wildfires are becoming more frequent and severe and scientists warn that this could hinder the recovery of the ozone layer.


The findings highlight the sheer scale of the changes needed to combat air pollution, said Anumita Roychowdhury, an air pollution expert at Center for Science and Environment, a research organization in New Delhi.

India and the world need to brace for major changes to try to curb air pollution, including using electric vehicles, shifting away from fossil fuels, embracing a massive scaling-up of green energy and separating out types of waste, she said.

The Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a New Delhi-based think tank, found that more than 60% of India’s PM2.5 loads are from households and industries. Tanushree Ganguly, who heads the council’s program on air quality, called for action toward reducing emissions from industries, automobiles, biomass burning and domestic energy.

“We need to prioritize clean energy access for households that need it the most, and take active measures to clean up our industrial sector,” she said.

Source:

Jamey Keaten via Associated Press



50% of U.S. Lakes and Rivers Are Too Polluted for Swimming, Fishing, Drinking

50% of U.S. Lakes and Rivers Are Too Polluted for Swimming, Fishing, Drinking


Fifty years ago, the U.S. passed the Clean Water Act with the goal of ensuring  “fishable, swimmable” water across the U.S. by 1983. 

Now, a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) finds the country has fallen far short of that goal. In fact, about half of the nation’s lakes and rivers are too polluted for swimming, fishing or drinking. 


“The Clean Water Act should be celebrated on its 50th birthday for making America’s waterways significantly cleaner,” EIP Executive Director Eric Schaeffer said in a press release announcing the report.  “However, we need more funding, stronger enforcement, and better control of farm runoff to clean up waters that are still polluted after half a century. Let’s give EPA and states the tools they need to finish the job – we owe that much to our children and to future generations.”

The report was based on reports that states are required to submit under the Clean Water Act on the pollution levels of their rivers, streams, lakes and estuaries. According to the most recent reports, more than half of the lakes and rivers are considered “impaired,” meaning that they fall short of standards for fishing, swimming, aquatic life and drinking. 

Specifically, around 51 percent of rivers and streams and 55 percent of lake acres are considered impaired, The Hill reported. Further, 26 percent of estuary miles are also impaired. 

The Clean Water Act was a landmark legislative achievement when it was passed in 1972. It promised to end the discharge of all pollutants into navigable waters by 1985, according to the press release. However, it has fallen short of that goal for several reasons, according to the report. 

  1. The act has strong controls for pollution pumped directly into waterways from factories or sewage plants but not for indirect pollution such as agricultural runoff from factory farms.
  2. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has dragged its feet in updating industry-specific technology-based limits for water pollution control systems. By 2022, two-thirds of these industry-specific limits had not been updated in more than 30 years.
  3. Budget cuts have hampered the ability of the EPA and state agencies to enforce the law.
  4. Permit requirements are poorly enforced.
  5. Total Maximum Daily Loads, a kind of pollution control plan, are insufficient. 
  6. There are problems effectively managing watersheds that cover two or more states. 

The report also broke down pollution by state. Indiana has the most miles of rivers and streams too impaired for swimming and recreation.

“Indiana’s waters have benefited from the Clean Water Act, but unfortunately, they also illustrate some of the gaps in the law,” Dr. Indra Frank, Environmental Health & Water Policy Director for the Hoosier Environmental Council, said in the press release. “We have seen persistent, unresolved impairments, especially for E coli bacteria in our rivers and streams, in part from industrial agricultural runoff.  And we have also seen examples of Clean Water Act permits used to send water contaminated with coal-ash into our rivers. We need to halt pollution like this.”

Florida, meanwhile, had the most lake acres impaired for swimming and aquatic life. 


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Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, February 6, 2022. Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS

DUMPING PLASTIC IN WATERWAYS IS ‘CRIMINAL’, POPE SAYS IN TV INTERVIEW


Dumping plastic in waterways is “criminal” and must end if humanity wants to save the planet for future generations, Pope Francis said in a television interview on Sunday.

NEW ZEALAND LAKE WITH CLEAREST WATER IN THE WORLD THREATENED


Nelson’s Rotomairewhenua/Blue Lake, which has the clearest water in the world, is facing the threat from lake snow, an invasive diatom that blooms into a slimy, clinging algae-like substance that could disturb its pure waters.


“Florida’s toxic-algae crisis is the direct result of lax enforcement of phosphorus and nitrogen pollution limits in cleanup plans required by the Clean Water Act,” Friends of the Everglades Executive  Director Eve Samples said in the press release. “Because these limits rely on voluntary ‘best management practices’ and a presumption of compliance, agricultural polluters regularly exceed phosphorus runoff limits while dodging responsibility — leading to harmful algal blooms in Florida’s lakes, rivers, estuaries, and even on saltwater beaches.”

The report did propose several solutions that range from making sure that the EPA and other agencies carry out their duties under the existing law to strengthening the act with new legislation to control runoff pollution. 

This last is particularly important because agricultural runoff and other indirect pollution sources are the leading causes of waterway pollution. 

“Factory-style animal production has become an industry with a massive waste disposal problem and should be regulated like other large industries,” the study authors wrote.   

Source:

Olivia Rosane at EcoWatch



Microplastics found in human blood for first time

Microplastics found in human blood for first time


The discovery shows the particles can travel around the body and may lodge in organs


Microplastic pollution has been detected in human blood for the first time, with scientists finding the tiny particles in almost 80% of the people tested.

The discovery shows the particles can travel around the body and may lodge in organs. The impact on health is as yet unknown. But researchers are concerned as microplastics cause damage to human cells in the laboratory and air pollution particles are already known to enter the body and cause millions of early deaths a year.

Huge amounts of plastic waste are dumped in the environment and microplastics now contaminate the entire planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans. People were already known to consume the tiny particles via food and water as well as breathing them in, and they have been found in the faeces of babies and adults.



The scientists analysed blood samples from 22 anonymous donors, all healthy adults and found plastic particles in 17. Half the samples contained PET plastic, which is commonly used in drinks bottles, while a third contained polystyrene, used for packaging food and other products. A quarter of the blood samples contained polyethylene, from which plastic carrier bags are made.

“Our study is the first indication that we have polymer particles in our blood – ​it’s a breakthrough result,” said Prof Dick Vethaak, an ecotoxicologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands. “But we have to extend the research and increase the sample sizes, the number of polymers assessed, etc.” Further studies by a number of groups are already under way, he said.

“It is certainly reasonable to be concerned,” Vethaak told the Guardian. “The particles are there and are transported throughout the body.” He said previous work had shown that microplastics were 10 times higher in the faeces of babies compared with adults and that babies fed with plastic bottles are swallowing millions of microplastic particles a day.

“We also know in general that babies and young children are more vulnerable to chemical and particle exposure,” he said. “That worries me a lot.”

The new research is published in the journal Environment International and adapted existing techniques to detect and analyse particles as small as 0.0007mm. Some of the blood samples contained two or three types of plastic. The team used steel syringe needles and glass tubes to avoid contamination, and tested for background levels of microplastics using blank samples.

Vethaak acknowledged that the amount and type of plastic varied considerably between the blood samples. “But this is a pioneering study,” he said, with more work now needed. He said the differences might reflect short-term exposure before the blood samples were taken, such as drinking from a plastic-lined coffee cup, or wearing a plastic face mask.

“The big question is what is happening in our body?” Vethaak said. “Are the particles retained in the body? Are they transported to certain organs, such as getting past the blood-brain barrier?” And are these levels sufficiently high to trigger disease? We urgently need to fund further research so we can find out.”


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The “disastrous” way in which plastic is used in farming across the world is threatening food safety and potentially human health, according to a report from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

BABY POOP IS LOADED WITH MICROPLASTICS


An alarming new study finds that infant feces contain 10 times more polyethylene terephthalate (aka polyester) than an adult’s.


The new research was funded by the Dutch National Organisation for Health Research and Development and Common Seas, a social enterprise working to reduce plastic pollution.

“Plastic production is set to double by 2040,” said Jo Royle, founder of the charity Common Seas. “We have a right to know what all this plastic is doing to our bodies.” Common Seas, along with more than 80 NGOs, scientists and MPs, are asking the UK government to allocate £15m to research on the human health impacts of plastic. The EU is already funding research on the impact of microplastic on foetuses and babies, and on the immune system.

A recent study found that microplastics can latch on to the outer membranes of red blood cells and may limit their ability to transport oxygen. The particles have also been found in the placentas of pregnant women, and in pregnant rats they pass rapidly through the lungs into the hearts, brains and other organs of the foetuses.

A new review paper published on Tuesday, co-authored by Vethaak, assessed cancer risk and concluded: “More detailed research on how micro- and nano-plastics affect the structures and processes of the human body, and whether and how they can transform cells and induce carcinogenesis, is urgently needed, particularly in light of the exponential increase in plastic production. The problem is becoming more urgent with each day.”

Source:

Damian Carrington at The Guardian