Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

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Tag Archive: pollution

  1. Administration repeals National Ocean Policy that advanced holistic approach to ocean management

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    • Over the past eight years, the National Ocean Policy benefited ocean resources and the communities that depend on them by advancing a holistic and collaborative approach to management. The policy addressed key issues such as water quality, marine debris, coastal resilience and renewable energy through improved coordination across all levels of government, including federal, state and tribal representatives….

    June 19, 2018 Read full Surfrider article here

    On Tuesday, June 19, the Trump administration announced the repeal of the National Ocean Policy and issued a new executive order as a replacement. The National Ocean Policy was established by the Obama administration in 2010 based on the bipartisan recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, and sought to address the many shortcomings of our nation’s piecemeal approach to ocean management….

    …Over the past eight years, the National Ocean Policy benefited ocean resources and the communities that depend on them by advancing a holistic and collaborative approach to management. The policy addressed key issues such as water quality, marine debris, coastal resilience and renewable energy through improved coordination across all levels of government, including federal, state and tribal representatives. The policy also improved opportunities for public and stakeholder participation in decisions that affect our coasts and ocean….

    A cornerstone of the National Ocean Policy was support for regional planning bodies (RPBs) that bring together states, federal agencies, stakeholders, tribes, and the public within distinct geographic regions to advance stewardship of the ocean and coasts. In regions such as the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, West Coast, and Pacific Islands, real progress has been made to protect the coastal ecosystems we all use and enjoy by advancing smart ocean planning.


  2. Nanoplastics accumulate in marine organisms and may pose harm to aquatic food chains

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    • The oceans may already contain over 150 million tonnes of plastic, and each year, about eight million tonnes of plastic will end up in the ocean.
    • Study results showed that after exposing the barnacle larvae to nanoplastics in both treatments, the larvae had not only ingested the plastic particles, but the tiny particles were found to be distributed throughout the bodies of the larvae

    May 31, 2018 National University of Singapore Read full ScienceDaily article here

    Plastic nanoparticles — these are tiny pieces of plastic less than 1 micrometre in size — could potentially contaminate food chains, and ultimately affect human health, according to a recent study by scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS). They discovered that nanoplastics are easily ingested by marine organisms, and they accumulate in the organisms over time, with a risk of being transferred up the food chain, threatening food safety and posing health risks….

    … It is estimated that the oceans may already contain over 150 million tonnes of plastic, and each year, about eight million tonnes of plastic will end up in the ocean. Plastics do not degrade easily. In the marine environment, plastics are usually broken down into smaller pieces by the sun, waves, wind and microbial action. These micro- and nanoplastic particles in the water may be ingested by filter-feeding marine organisms such as barnacles, tube worms and sea-squirts….

    …”Our results showed that after exposing the barnacle larvae to nanoplastics in both treatments, the larvae had not only ingested the plastic particles, but the tiny particles were found to be distributed throughout the bodies of the larvae,” said Ms Serina Lee from the Tropical Marine Science Institute at NUS, who is the second author of the paper.

    Samarth Bhargava, Serina Siew Chen Lee, Lynette Shu Min Ying, Mei Lin Neo, Serena Lay-Ming Teo, Suresh Valiyaveettil. Fate of Nanoplastics in Marine Larvae: A Case Study Using Barnacles, Amphibalanus amphitrite. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 2018; 6 (5): 6932 DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b00766

  3. 6 Things You’re Recycling Wrong

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    • Can you recycle coffee cups or greasy pizza boxes? If you’re tossing things in the recycling bin out of sheer hope, you might be an “aspirational recycler.”
    • Don’t contaminate recycling with:
      • disposable coffee cups (they are usually lined with polyethylene)
      • greasy pizza box (contaminated with grease; compost instead if no plastic in box)
      • yogurt and other small plastic cups (China- where most materials have been set- recently banned used plastics from the US; now most recyclers don’t take #3-7)
      • plastic take out containers that have food/oil (clean them lightly before recycling)
      • plastic bags (never use them if possible; don’t put them in recycling; find where to properly recycle in your area)
      • dirty diapers (do not put these in recycling)

    By Livia Albeck-Ripka

    We have all done it: a greasy pizza box, a disposable coffee cup, the odd plastic bag. Sometimes, we want things to be recyclable, so we put them in the recycling bin.

    Waste managers often call this wishful or aspirational recycling. But, unfortunately, putting these objects in with the rest of the recycling can do more harm than good. While rules differ in every municipality (check your local recycling website to find out what’s acceptable), we have picked out some key offenders to keep in mind.

    Too many of these items will contaminate a batch of recycling. That means waste managers might not be able to find buyers for the materials — especially now that China, one of the world’s main importers of recyclable waste, has said it will reject shipments that are more than 0.5 percent impure. Contaminated loads could be sent to the landfill instead….

  4. World’s biggest fisheries supported by seagrass meadows

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    • Seagrass meadows help to support world fisheries productivity
    • “The chasm that exists between coastal habitat conservation and fisheries management needs to be filled to maximise the chances of seagrass meadows supporting fisheries, so that they can continue to support human wellbeing”
    May 21, 2018 Swansea University Read full ScienceDaily article here
    “Scientific research has provided the first quantitative global evidence of the significant role that seagrass meadows play in supporting world fisheries productivity… The study provides evidence that a fifth of the world’s biggest fisheries, such as Atlantic Cod and Walleye Pollock are reliant on healthy seagrass meadows. The study also demonstrates the prevalence of seagrass associated fishing globally….

    ….Dr Unsworth said: “The coastal distribution of seagrass means it is vulnerable to a multitude of both land and sea based threats, such as land runoff, coastal development, boat damage and trawling. There is a global rapid decline of seagrass and when seagrass is lost there is strong evidence globally that fisheries and their stocks often become compromised with profound negative economic consequences. To make a change, awareness of seagrasses role in global fisheries production must pervade the policy sphere. We urge that seagrass requires targeted management to maintain and maximise their role in global fisheries production.”

    Richard K.F. Unsworth, Lina Mtwana Nordlund, Leanne C. Cullen-Unsworth. Seagrass meadows support global fisheries production. Conservation Letters, 2018; e12566 DOI: 10.1111/conl.12566

  5. Rising emissions of ozone-destroying chemical banned by Montreal Protocol

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    • A new study documents an unexpected increase in emissions of CFC-11, likely from new, unreported production.
    • Measurements from Hawaii indicate the sources of the increasing emissions are likely in eastern Asia.

    May 16, 2018 University of Colorado at Boulder  Read full ScienceDaily article here

    Emissions of one of the chemicals most responsible for the Antarctic ozone hole are on the rise, despite an international treaty that required an end to its production in 2010, a new study shows.

    Trichlorofluoromethane, or CFC-11, is the second-most abundant ozone-depleting gas in the atmosphere and a member of the family of chemicals most responsible for the giant hole in the ozone layer that forms over Antarctica each September. Once widely used as a foaming agent, production of CFC-11 was phased out by the Montreal Protocol in 2010.

    …These findings represent the first time emissions of one of the three most abundant, long-lived CFCs have increased for a sustained period since production controls took effect in the late 1980s.

    If the source of these emissions can be identified and mitigated soon, the damage to the ozone layer should be minor. If not remedied soon, however, substantial delays in ozone layer recovery could be expected, Montzka said….

    Stephen A. Montzka et al. An unexpected and persistent increase in global emissions of ozone-depleting CFC-11. Nature, 2018; 557 (7705): 413 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0106-2

  6. Beaver dams reduce soil loss and trap pollutants

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    • Researchers found that beaver dams trapped more than 100 tonnes of sediment, 70% of which was soil, which had eroded from ‘intensively managed grassland’ fields upstream.
    • This sediment contained high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, which are nutrients known to create problems for the wildlife in rivers and streams and which also need to be removed from human water supplies to meet drinking-quality standards.

    May 9, 2018 University of Exeter Read full ScienceDaily article here

    Beavers could help clean up polluted rivers and stem the loss of valuable soils from farms, new research shows.

    …”we are heartened to discover that beaver dams can go a long way to mitigate this soil loss and also trap pollutants which lead to the degradation of our water bodies. Were beaver dams to be commonplace in the landscape we would no doubt see these effects delivering multiple benefits across whole ecosystems, as they do elsewhere around the world.”

    …”Our partnership with Exeter University working on both our fenced and unfenced beaver trials is revealing information which shows the critical role beavers can play, not only for wildlife, but the future sustainability of our land and water. It is truly inspiring to have our observations confirmed by detailed scientific investigations.”

    Alan Puttock, Hugh A. Graham, Donna Carless, Richard E. Brazier. Sediment and Nutrient Storage in a Beaver Engineered Wetland. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/esp.4398

  7. Sea turtle nesting beaches threatened by microplastic pollution

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    • Tiny pieces of plastic could be jeopardizing sensitive sea turtle nesting beaches.
    • Sand collected in the Gulf of Mexico revealed that microplastics were present at every site
    May 1, 2018  Florida State University Read full ScienceDaily article here
    For the loggerhead sea turtles that nest on the once-pristine beaches bounding the Gulf of Mexico, millimeters-thick pieces of broken down plastic — called microplastics — pose a particularly urgent threat…

    …Sand samples collected throughout the region revealed that microplastics were present at every site. More alarming, the highest concentrations of microplastics were found consistently in the dunes, where sea turtles tend to nest.

    Plastic has a tendency to retain large amounts of heat in response to comparably moderate increases in temperature. If enough plastic is present in a sandy environment, the area could experience measurable temperature increases.

    This dynamic is of particular concern in sea turtle nests, Fuentes said. For marine turtle eggs, incubation temperature is destiny….

    Sea turtles have temperature dependent sex determination, which means their sex is determined by the sand temperature,” Fuentes said. “Changes in incubation temperatures might modify the sex ratios produced on these nesting beaches, but at this stage we don’t know how much microplastic is needed to see those changes.”

    ….Fuentes remains optimistic about the future. She said that shifting attitudes could translate into positive changes in policy and behavior…..”We’re beginning to see more and more initiatives providing incentives to discourage the use of plastics. I see my students making those changes every day. It’s up to everyone.



    Valencia K. Beckwith, Mariana M.P.B. Fuentes. Microplastic at nesting grounds used by the northern Gulf of Mexico loggerhead recovery unit. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2018; 131: 32 DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.04.001

  8. Seagrasses in Chesapeake Bay cover most area on record due to reduction in pollution and partnerships

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    • Results from survey show Chesapeake initiatives are working, scientists say

    By Scott Dance April 24 2018 Read full Baltimore Sun article here

    Underwater grasses that provide vital places for fish and crabs to live and hide from predators covered more than 100,000 acres of the Chesapeake Bay in 2017 — the most ever recorded in a 34-year aerial survey, scientists said Tuesday.

    The Virginia Institute of Marine Science found 104,843 acres of grasses across the estuary, the first time since it began its survey in 1984 that vegetative coverage surpassed the 100,000-acre threshold.

    It was a third straight year that grass acreage grew, gaining by 5 percent from 2016 to 2017.

    The Patapsco River was among the areas with the strongest grass growth. Acreage jumped more than three times, from 3 acres in 2016 to 14 acres in 2017.

    Officials with the Chesapeake Bay Program, the federal office that released the data, said the survey results show that its work with bay watershed states to limit pollution is working. The federal-state partnership adopted a “blueprint” in 2010 to reverse decades of environmental degradation and restore the bay’s health by 2025.

    The Annapolis-based bay program has faced proposals of cuts from President Donald J. Trump’s administration, but Congress has spared its $73 million budget.

    This achievement is a true example of the power a partnership can have and I call upon all of our partners to continue their efforts toward this remarkable recovery,” said Jim Edward, the program’s acting director…..

  9. Record concentration of microplastics found in Arctic

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    By Helen Briggs April 24 2018 Read full BBC article here

    ….Dr Jeremy Wilkinson, a sea ice physicist at the British Antarctic Survey, said the work, published in Nature Communications, was a “benchmark study”.

    “Microplastic particles were found throughout all cores sampled,” he said. “It suggests that microplastics are now ubiquitous within the surface waters of the world’s ocean. Nowhere is immune.”

    And Dr Jason Holt of the National Oceanography Centre said we might expect plastic waste from some European countries to eventually end up in the Arctic, due to ocean circulation patterns….

  10. One of Europe’s largest lakes has wide range of toxic plastic pollution

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    • Freshwater systems have been largely overlooked with regards to the impact of plastic. The impacts of plastic-bound toxic elements on lake wildlife are currently unknown.
    • Researchers detected cadmium, mercury and lead — sometimes in very high concentrations that exceed the maximum permitted under EU law.

    April 3, 2018 Frontiers Read full ScienceDaily article here

    The first analysis of plastic litter from Lake Geneva [shared by Switzerland and France; home to Evian bottled water] finds toxic chemicals like cadmium, mercury and lead – – whose levels sometimes exceed the maximum permitted under EU law. The presence of chemicals that are now restricted or banned in plastic production reflects how old the plastic litter could be — and indicates that like oceans, freshwater habitats are also affected by plastic pollution….

    “Plastic debris in freshwater lakes are likely to pose the same problems to wildlife as marine plastics. In this respect, entanglement and ingestion are of greatest concern,” says Dr. Montserrat Filella, lead author of this research, based at the Department F.-A. Forel, University of Geneva, Switzerland.

    “The hazardous chemicals we find associated with these plastics is also worrying. When they are eaten by animals mistaking them for food, the acidic and enzyme-rich conditions in the stomach could accelerate how quickly these toxins are released into the body, affecting the animals concerned.”….

    Montserrat Filella, Andrew Turner. Observational Study Unveils the Extensive Presence of Hazardous Elements in Beached Plastics from Lake Geneva. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 2018; 6 DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2018.00001