Eating Too Much Protein Makes Pollutant Problem in the U.S.

In the U.S., people eat more protein than they need to. And though it might not be bad for human health, this excess does pose a problem for the country’s waterways. The nation’s wastewater is laden with the leftovers from protein digestion: nitrogen compounds that can feed toxic algal blooms and pollute the air and drinking water. This source of nitrogen pollution even rivals that from fertilizers washed off of fields growing food crops, new research suggests.

When we overconsume protein—whether it comes from lentils, supplements or steak—our body breaks the excess down into urea, a nitrogen-containing compound that exits the body via urine and ultimately ends up in sewage. Maya Almaraz, a biogeochemist at the University of California, Davis, and her colleagues wanted to see how much of this nitrogen is being flushed into the U.S. sewage system because of a protein-heavy diet. The researchers combined population data and previous work on how much excess protein the average American eats and found that the majority of nitrogen pollution present in wastewater—some 67 to 100 percent—is a by-product of what people consume. “We think a lot about sewage nitrogen. We know that’s an issue,” Almaraz says. “But I didn’t know how much of that is actually affected by the choices we’re making way upstream—when we go the grocery store, when we

— source | Sasha Warren | Jul 27, 2022

Nullius in verba


Link between air pollution and child brain development strengthened

Air pollution is not just a problem for lungs. Increasingly, research suggests air pollution can influence childhood behavioral problems and even IQ. A new study led by the University of Washington has added evidence showing that both prenatal and postnatal exposure to air pollution can harm kids.

The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that children whose mothers experienced higher nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exposure during pregnancy, particularly in the first and second trimester, were more likely to have behavioral problems.

Researchers also reported that higher exposures to small-particle air pollution (PM2.5) when children were 2 to 4 years old was associated with poorer child behavioral functioning and cognitive performance.

— source University of Washington | Jul 14, 2022

Nullius in verba


Multi-layered strategies needed to protect public health from oil and gas drilling impacts

Efforts to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of oil and gas drilling are often focused on single measures, such as increasing setbacks, the minimum allowable distance between drilling and homes, schools, and other sensitive locations. However, in a July 6 commentary in Environmental Research Letters, a group of public health experts from several universities and organizations urges adoption of a multi-layered approach when developing policies to mitigate the impact of gas and oil production operations. They lay out a framework for decision-making, which they say would facilitate the application of more public health protective measures.

“Oil and gas development can emit multiple hazards and therefore requires multiple solutions to protect communities and the environment,” said Nicole Deziel, Ph.D., the paper’s

— source Yale School of Public Health | Jul 6, 2022

Nullius in verba

Car tires produce vastly more particle pollution than exhausts

Almost 2,000 times more particle pollution is produced by tire wear than is pumped out of the exhausts of modern cars, tests have shown.

The tire particles pollute air, water, and soil and contain a wide range of toxic organic compounds, including known carcinogens, the analysts say, suggesting tire pollution could rapidly become a major issue for regulators.

Air pollution causes millions of early deaths a year globally. The requirement for better filters has meant particle emissions from tailpipes in developed countries are now much lower in new cars, with those in Europe far below the legal limit. However, the increasing weight of cars means more particles are being thrown off by tires as they wear on the road.

The tests also revealed that tires produce more than 1 trillion ultrafine particles for each kilometer driven, meaning particles smaller than 23 nanometers. These are also

— source | Damian Carrington | Jun 10, 2022

Nullius in verba

Noise from Road traffic in European cities

Road traffic is the main source of environmental noise. Previous research has linked environmental noise to a range of adverse health effects: sleep disturbance, annoyance, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, adverse birth outcomes, cognitive impairment, poor mental health and well-being, and premature mortality. Long-term exposure to road traffic noise can cause a sustained stress reaction, which results in the release of stress hormones and increases in heart rate, blood pressure and vasoconstriction, eventually leading to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, depression and anxiety disorders.

For this study, data on European cities were retrieved from the Urban Audit 2018 dataset. Road traffic noise exposure was estimated using noise maps produced by countries and cities under the current European legislative framework (Environmental Noise Directive) or available from local sources (e.g. city governments and research institutions). For

— source Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) | Mar 24, 2022

Nullius in verba

How the chemicals industry’s pollution slipped under the radar

It’s one of the biggest industries in the world, consumes more than 10% of fossil fuels produced globally and emits an estimated 3.3 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions a year, more than India’s annual emissions – yet the chemicals sector has largely slipped under the radar when it comes to climate.

This sprawling industry produces a huge range of products, many of which support other industries – pesticides for agriculture, acids for mining, lubricants for machinery, ingredients in cleaning agents, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals and plastics.

While the industry has an important role to play in moving to low-carbon economies – providing coatings for solar panels, lightweight plastics to reduce vehicles’ energy consumption and insulating materials for buildings – it’s also hugely carbon intensive and predicted to become more so. Oil companies have been betting on chemicals as a way to remain profitable as the world pledges to turn away from fossil fuel energy. The International Energy Agency predicted that petrochemicals could account for 60% of oil demand in

— source | XiaoZhi Lim | 5 Jan 2022

Nullius in verba

The plastics you throw away are poisoning the world’s eggs and World’s Poor eating that

Eggs eaten by some of the world’s poorest people are being poisoned by plastic waste from rich countries like Canada and the U.S., new research has found.

A suite of harmful chemicals are added to plastic and food packaging to give them desirable traits, like grease resistance or flexibility. When they burn or break down, these chemicals contaminate the surrounding environment and animals living or feeding nearby.

Chickens can absorb the chemicals by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated worms and insects. Eggs are particularly sensitive to containing toxic chemicals and are commonly consumed by people, according to the report produced by the International Pollutant Elimination Network (IPEN), a global coalition of environmental organizations.

The problem is most acute for people in low- and middle-income countries at the receiving end of the multibillion-dollar global trade in plastic and electronic waste. According to the recent study, which was not peer-reviewed, people eating free-range eggs raised near 25 plastic waste dumps and recycling centres in 14 low- and middle-income countries

— source | Marc Fawcett-Atkinson | Jun 22 2021

Nullius in verba

Lesser known ozone layer’s outsized role in planet warming

Ozone is a gas composed of three oxygen atoms. Many studies have described ozone in the stratosphere, and its role in shielding people from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. Closer to ground level, in the troposphere, ozone is harmful to humans.

New research led by UC Riverside scientists reveals this lower level ozone is adding a great deal of heat to the Southern Ocean — more than scientists previously understood.

This finding has now been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Oceans remove a majority of the carbon and heat that enter the atmosphere when humans burn fossil fuels. The Southern Ocean, also called the Antarctic Ocean, collects a third of all excess carbon in the world’s atmosphere, and an estimated 75% of the excess heat collected by the world’s oceans.

Historically, about a third of the ocean’s warming is attributable to ozone. For this third, about 40% is from the stratosphere, and the rest is troposphere.

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from products like pesticides, tobacco smoke and automobiles are gases that form the building blocks of tropospheric ozone. The same is true

— source University of California – Riverside | Apr 22, 2022

Nullius in verba

Pharmaceutical pollution in the world’s rivers

The new study looked at 258 rivers across the globe, including the Thames in London and the Amazon in Brazil, to measure the presence of 61 pharmaceuticals, such as carbamazepine, metformin and caffeine. strong correlations between the socioeconomic status of a country and higher pollution of pharmaceuticals in its rivers (with lower-middle income nations the most polluted). the most polluted countries and regions of the world are the ones that have been researched the least (namely sub-saharan Africa, South America and parts of southern Asia). The study revealed that a quarter of the sites contained contaminants (such as sulfamethoxazole, propranolol, ciprofloxacin and loratadine) at potentially harmful concentrations. The study included noteworthy rivers such as the Amazon, Mississippi, Thames and the Mekong. Water samples were obtained from sites spanning from a Yanomami Village in Venezuela, where modern medicines are not used, to some of the most populated cities on the planet, such as Delhi, London, New York, Lagos, Las Vegas, and Guangzhou. The study forms part of the University of York-led Global Monitoring of Pharmaceuticals Project, which has expanded significantly over the last two years

The contaminants found at potentially harmful concentrations include:[]–

propranolol (a beta-blocker for heart problems such as high blood pressure)
sulfamethoxazole (an antibiotic for bacterial infection)
ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic for bacterial infection)
loratadine (an antihistamine for allergies)

— source University of York | Feb 14, 2022

Nullius in verba