2018/10/17: New research shows microplastics in 90 percent of the table salt brands sampled worldwide. Of 39 salt brands tested, 36 had microplastics in them, according to a new analysis by researchers in South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia. Salt samples from 21 countries in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia were analyzed. The three brands that did not contain microplastics are from Taiwan (refined sea salt), China (refined rock salt), and France (unrefined sea salt produced by solar evaporation). The study was published this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The density of microplastics found in salt varied dramatically among different brands, but those from Asian brands were especially high, the study found. The highest quantities of microplastics were found in salt sold in Indonesia. Asia is a hot spot for plastic pollution, and Indonesia -- with 34,000 miles (54,720 km) of coastline -- ranked in an unrelated 2015 study as suffering the second-worst level of plastic pollution in the world. In another indicator of the geographic density of plastic pollution, microplastics levels were highest in sea salt, followed by lake salt and then rock salt.
Even though the study found that the average adult consumes approximately 2,000 microplastics per year through salt, it's not clear what the health consequences are.
the focus on microplastics may divert attention from worse environmental (and more easily identifiable) pollution problems, such as small particles released from car tires.
2018/09/21: Dominated by multinational corporations that contract with local farmers, the industry is concentrated in the state's low-lying southeastern coastal plain – exactly where Florence shattered rainfall records.
Even in fair weather, the state's 2,100 facilities, all decades old, pose problems. Odor and pathogens from animal barns, waste pits, and spray fields can torment and sicken neighbors, prompting three juries this year to award hundreds of millions in damages to plaintiffs suing Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer. Other suits are in the offing.
A Duke University study published online this week reinforced these neighbors' concerns, citing low life expectancy in communities near confined animal feeding operations, even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors known to affect health and lifespan.
All of these threats are amplified after heavy rains. Fields saturated with rainwater can't absorb nutrients from waste pits; excess nitrogen and phosphorous instead appear in rivers and streams, at worst causing algae blooms and fish kills. Manure pits can burst or overflow, sending sludge, microbes, and potentially antibiotic-resistant bacteria into floodwaters, heightening their risk to public health.
"You're releasing all of that and making this soup of eastern North Carolina," Ryke Longest, director of Duke University's environmental law clinic, told EHN.
Il consumo è passato dai 10 chili l’anno per persona del 1980 ai 54 chili registrati nel 2013. Nel paese asiatico si contano circa 700 milioni di suini, pari al 50% del totale mondiale e dal 2000 l'utilizzo di pratiche di smaltimento occulte è schizzato al 70%. Con gravi conseguenze per l'uomo e per l'ambiente
2018/09/16: How bad is the situation with plastic pollution? Rather bad, by all means. Citing from a recent paper by Geyer et al., more than 8 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s. Of this mass, 9% percent was recycled, 12% was incinerated, the rest is still around. It is this mass of plastics, billions of tons, which generates the pollution we see today. It is almost one ton of plastic waste for every human being living today. Imagine if it were magically to appear in your living room: one ton for every member of your family.
Still following Geyer et al., we learn that in 2015 the world produced 380 million tons of plastics from fossil hydrocarbons. To get some idea of how polluting this mass is, we can compare it to the total carbon emissions produced by hydrocarbon combustion, which today can be estimated to be around 9 billion tons per year. As an order of magnitude comparison, we can say that about 4% of the fossil hydrocarbons we extract become plastics.
4% doesn't seem to be a large amount, but it is not negligible, either. Apart from the horrible state of some beaches, the islands of plastics in the oceans, it is a lot of carbon pumped into the ecosystems and its effects are scarcely known, especially on humans: we are all eating microplastic particles, today. What will that do to our health, nobody knows -- we are all guinea pigs in a great experiment. The long-run problem is that all this plastic is made from fossil hydrocarbons, it is going to be gradually oxidized and turned into gaseous CO2. Then, it will contribute to global warming.
is bioplastic the solution to the problem? As it often happens, quantification makes short work of ideas that seemed to be good in theory. Today, bioplastics are made mainly from cereals (corn) or directly from sugar. According to the data from Statista, the world's production of sugar was about 170 million tons in 2017, less than half the amount needed to make the currently produced amounts of plastics even in the wildly optimistic assumption of a 100% efficient process. About grain, the data tell us that in crop year 2016/2017, a total of approximately 2.62 billion metric tons of grain were produced worldwide. Again in the wildly optimistic assumption of a 100% efficient production process, it means we should set aside about 15% of the world's grain production - more realistically about 20%-25%. Then, of course, efficiency can be improved and we may find ways to make plastic out of plants not used as food. But, at present, it is the way things stand.
There is just so much that agriculture can do: it can't feed more than 7 billion people and, at the same time, provide fiber, chemicals, and fuel for everybody.
it would be perfectly possible to develop and implement international agreements that would curb the use of plastics made from fossil fuels and eventually ban it completely. That implies changing something in our everyday life: the "overpackaged" products that today are so common in supermarket aisles would have to disappear. But packaging is not evil: it is a way to store food more efficiently. We need to learn how to be much more efficient with it.
2015/12/02: circular economy will boost the EU's competitiveness by protecting businesses against scarcity of resources and volatile prices, helping to create new business opportunities and innovative, more efficient ways of producing and consuming.
It will create local jobs at all skills levels and opportunities for social integration and cohesion. At the same time, it will save energy and help avoid the irreversible damages caused by using up resources at a rate that exceeds the Earth's capacity to renew them in terms of climate and biodiversity, air, soil and water pollution.
Action on the circular economy therefore ties in closely with key EU priorities
2018/07/03: “There is this false narrative, this dangerous lie, that people on bikes are somehow getting away with something, that they’re not paying their way,” Toderian explains. “This isn’t just a little wrong, it’s a lot wrong. We know factually that walking and biking are the two ways of getting around that actually save society money for each kilometre travelled. And that’s even before we consider all the many benefits that aren’t just about money.”
Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8 billion tons have been manufactured. And when it's thrown away, it doesn't just disappear. Much of it crumbles into small pieces. Scientists call the tiny pieces "microplastics" and define them as objects smaller than 5 millimeters -- about the size of one of the letters on a computer keyboard. Researchers started to pay serious attention to microplastics in the environment about 15 years ago. They're in oceans, rivers and lakes. They're also in soil. Recent research in Germany found that fertilizer made from composted household waste contains microplastics. And, even more concerning, microplastics are in drinking water. In beer. In sea salt. In fish and shellfish. How microplastics get into animals is something of a mystery, and Chelsea Rochman is trying to solve it.rnrnSince she started studying microplastics, Rochman has found them in the outflow from sewage treatment plants. And they've shown up in insects, worms, clams, fish and birds. To study how that happens, [researcher Kennedy Bucci] makes her own microplastics from the morning's collection. She takes a postage stamp-size piece of black plastic from the jar, and grinds it into particles using a coffee grinder. "So this is the plastic that I feed to the fish," she says. The plastic particles go into beakers of water containing fish larvae from fathead minnows, the test-animals of choice in marine toxicology. Tanks full of them line the walls of the lab. Bucci uses a pipette to draw out a bunch of larvae that have already been exposed to these ground-up plastic particles. The larva's gut is translucent. We can see right into it. "You can see kind of a line of black, weirdly shaped black things," she points out. "Those are the microplastics." The larva has ingested them. Rochman says microplastic particles can sicken or even kill larvae and fish in their experiments.
The environmental impacts caused by such spills varies greatly, with those close to the coast and pristine environments by far the most destructive. Hopefully the current oil slick will harden and sink to the ocean floor before it has a chance to make landfall in Louisiana over the next few days.
Researchers from the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI are developing radio-isotope beta-voltaic batteries with nickel-63 nano-cluster radio-isotope films.
New York's top cocktail bars are facing something of a crisis. A fashionable global protest movement has nightlife venues scrambling to replace their plastic straws with more sustainable alternatives, such as paper ones, on the theory that doing so will reduce plastic waste in the oceans. It all sound virtuous -- but in reality, it's likely to make matters worse. Straws make up a trifling percentage of the world's plastic products, and campaigns to eliminate them will not only be ineffective, but could distract from far more useful efforts.rnrnThe anti-straw movement took off in 2015, after a video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose went viral. Campaigns soon followed, with activists often citing studies of the growing ocean plastics problem. Intense media interest in the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- a floating, France-sized gyre of oceanic plastic -- only heightened the concern.rnrnBut this well-intentioned campaign assumes that single-use plastics, such as straws and coffee stirrers, have much to do with ocean pollution. And that assumption is based on some highly dubious data. Activists and news media often claim that Americans use 500 million plastic straws per day, for example, which sounds awful. But the source of this figure turns out to be a survey conducted by a nine-year-old. Similarly, two Australian scientists estimate that there are up to 8.3 billion plastic straws scattered on global coastlines. Yet even if all those straws were suddenly washed into the sea, they'd account for about .03 percent of the 8 million metric tons of plastics estimated to enter the oceans in a given year.rnrnIn other words, skipping a plastic straw in your next Bahama Mama may feel conscientious, but it won't make a dent in the garbage patch. So what will?rnrnA recent survey by scientists affiliated with Ocean Cleanup, a group developing technologies to reduce ocean plastic, offers one answer. Using surface samples and aerial surveys, the group determined that at least 46 percent of the plastic in the garbage patch by weight comes from a single product: fishing nets. Other fishing gear makes up a good chunk of the rest.rnrnThe impact of this junk goes well beyond pollution. Ghost gear, as it's sometimes called, goes on fishing long after it's been abandoned, to the great detriment of marine habitats. In 2013, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science estimated that lost and abandoned crab pots take in 1.25 million blue crabs each year.rnrnThis is a complicated problem. But since the early 1990s, there's been widespread agreement on at least one solution: a system to mark commercial fishing gear, so that the person or company that bought it can be held accountable when it's abandoned. Combined with better onshore facilities to dispose of such gear -- ideally by recycling -- and penalties for dumping at sea, such a system could go a long way toward reducing marine waste. Countries belonging to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization have even agreed on guidelines for the process.rnrnBut while rich countries should be able to meet such standards with ease, in the developing world -- where waste management is largely informal -- the problem is much harder. In Indonesia, for example, one study concluded that fishermen have little incentive to bring someone else's net to a disposal point unless they're getting paid to do so.rnrnThat's where all that anti-straw energy could really help. In 1990, after years of consumer pressure, the world's three largest tuna companies agreed to stop intentionally netting dolphins. Soon after, they introduced a "dolphin safe" certification label and tuna-related dolphin deaths declined precipitously. A similar campaign to pressure global seafood companies to adopt gear-marking practices -- and to help developing regions pay for them -- could have an even more profound impact. Energized consumers and activists in rich countries could play a crucial role in such a movement.rnrnThat's a harder sell than trendy anti-straw activism, of course. But unlike those newly virtuous night clubs, it might actually accomplish something useful.
Your usage has been flagged as a violation of our terms of service.
Telecom companies say that the world needs mountains of new, way faster, Fifth Generation (=5G) mobile networks to cope with the unavoidable arrival of the Internet of Things. GDPR and seahorses may disagree.
Plastic waste is a problem in the bathroom - from toothpaste tubes to shampoo bottles. Can you ditch plastic without sacrificing your beauty regimen?
Marine plastic pollution has been studied for decades, but the extent and effects of plastic pollution elsewhere is only just beginning to be explored.
2018/04/39: Easy! You just mix it with the right buzzwords.
A deposit scheme for bottles won't make a scrap of difference. This stuff is in our food, our clothes - and in us, writes John Vidal, a former Guardian environment editor
Research shows paints, perfumes, sprays and other synthetic items contribute to high levels of 'volatile organic compounds' in air
Plastic is polluting our ocean and damaging our health, and there are widespread calls to get rid of it. But it isn't as simple as wishing the pervasive material away.