Current Pollutants News and Events

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Long-term exposure to low levels of air pollution increases risk of heart and lung disease
Analysis of records for more than 63 million Medicare enrollees from 2000 to 2016 finds long-term exposure to air pollution had a significant impact on the number of people hospitalized for cardiac and respiratory conditions. Researchers examined three components of air pollution: fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone. Even levels lower than national standards affected heart and respiratory illnesses. (2021-02-22)

Scientists develop blood test to predict environmental harms to children
Scientists at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health developed a method using a DNA biomarker to easily screen pregnant women for harmful prenatal environmental contaminants like air pollution linked to childhood illness and developmental disorders. This approach has the potential to prevent childhood developmental disorders and chronic illness through the early identification of children at risk. (2021-02-17)

Electricity source determines benefits of electrifying China's vehicles
Researchers have concluded air quality and public health benefits of EVs -- as well as their ability to reduce carbon emissions -- in China are dependent on the type of transport electrified and the composition of the electric grid. (2021-02-16)

Pre-COVID subway air polluted from DC to Boston, but New York region's is the worst
Commuters now have yet another reason to avoid packing themselves into subway stations. New York City's transit system exposes riders to more inhaled pollutants than any other metropolitan subway system in the Northeastern United States, a new study finds. Yet even its ''cleaner'' neighbors struggle with enough toxins to give health-conscious travelers pause. (2021-02-10)

Links between pollution and cancer in wild animals: what can we learn?
This recent review combines the information available on cancer occurrences in aquatic and semi-aquatic animals. Cancer is one of the pollution-induced diseases that should be at the centre of attention in ecological and evolutionary research. Authors suggest physiological mechanisms that link pollution and cancer, determine which types of aquatic animals are more vulnerable to pollution-induced cancer, which types of pollution are mainly associated with cancer in aquatic ecosystems, and which types of cancer pollution causes. (2021-02-10)

Cleaning Up the Mississippi River
Professor R. Eugene Turner reconstructed a 100-year record chronicling water quality trends in the lower Mississippi River by compiling water quality data collected from 1901 to 2019. The Mississippi River is the largest river in North America with about 30 million people living within its watershed. He tracked pH levels and concentrations of bacteria, oxygen, lead and sulphate in this new study. (2021-02-08)

MARLIT, artificial intelligence against marine litter
Floating sea macro-litter is a threat to the conservation of marine ecosystems worldwide. The largest density of floating litter is in the great ocean gyres -systems of circular currents that spin and catch litter- but the polluting waste is abundant in coastal waters and semi closed seas such as the Mediterranean. (2021-02-04)

Significant cancer rates in California sea lions has major human health implications
20-plus years of data in newly released study by The Marine Mammal Center shows ocean pollutants is one of the leading causes of cancer in sea lions, and highlights how the exposure to environmental contaminants can fast-track the likelihood of humans developing virally caused cancers. (2021-02-02)

Failed storage tanks pose atmospheric risks during disasters
Rice University engineers model the hypothetical threats from toxins released when aboveground storage tanks fail during a storm. Using data from hurricanes Ike and Harvey and from the Houston Ship Channel, they illustrate potential atmospheric pollutants during and after a disaster. (2021-02-01)

More than just CO2: It's time to tackle short-lived climate-forcing pollutants
Climate change mitigation is about more than just CO2. So-called 'short-lived climate-forcing pollutants' such as soot, methane, and tropospheric ozone all have harmful effects. Climate policy should be guided by a clearer understanding of their differentiated impacts. (2021-01-27)

Kombucha tea sparks creative materials research solution
With Army funding, researchers developed a new way to generate tough, functional materials using a mixture of bacteria and yeast similar to the kombucha mother used to ferment tea. (2021-01-26)

Satellite data reveals bonds between emissions, pollution and economy
Burning fossil fuels has long powered world economies while contributing to air pollution and the buildup of greenhouse gases. A new analysis of nearly two decades of satellite data shows that economic development, fossil-fuel combustion and air quality are closely linked on the continental and national scales, but can be decoupled at the national level, according to Penn State scientists. (2021-01-26)

Deep-sea plastic accumulations by turbidity currents: NW South China sea
Benthic plastic litter is a main source of pollutants in oceans, but how it disperses is largely unknown. This study by Guangfa Zhong and Xiaotong Peng, published today in Geology, presents novel findings on the distribution patterns and dispersion mechanisms of deep-sea plastic waste in a submarined canyon located in the northwestern South China Sea. (2021-01-26)

Air pollution linked to higher risk of sight loss from AMD
Air pollution is linked to a heightened risk of progressive and irreversible sight loss, known as age related macular degeneration (AMD), reveals a large long term study led by UCL researchers, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. (2021-01-25)

Eliminating microplastics in wastewater directly at the source
A research team from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) has developed a process for the electrolytic treatment of wastewater that degrades microplastics at the source. The results of this research have been published in the Environmental Pollution journal. (2021-01-18)

Inspired by kombucha tea, engineers create "living materials"
Engineers at MIT and Imperial College London have developed a new way to generate tough, functional materials using a mix of bacteria and yeast similar to the ''kombucha mother'' used to ferment tea. Using this mix, called a Syn-SCOBY (synthetic symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), they produced cellulose embedded with enzymes that can perform a variety of functions, such as sensing environmental pollutants. (2021-01-11)

Pollutants rapidly changing the waters near Ieodo Island
Professor Kitack Lee's research team identifies the cause of ocean fertilization in northeast Asian waters. (2021-01-04)

New proposal for how aerosols drive increased atmospheric convection in thunderstorm clouds
High in the clouds, atmospheric aerosols, including anthropogenic air pollutants, increase updraft speeds in storm clouds by making the surrounding air more humid, a new study finds. (2020-12-31)

Atmospheric pollution and COVID-19 spread in Italy
A careful analysis focused on the possible connection between a low air quality index and COVID-19 spread in Italy in the first quarter of 2020. A study led by the CMCC Foundation highlights the potential short-term correlation between exposure to three well-known atmospheric pollutants (PM2.5, PM10 and NO2) and COVID-19 incidence, mortality and lethality rates. (2020-12-16)

Toxic pollutants can impact wildlife disease spread
Exposure to toxic pollutants associated with human activities may be influencing the spread of infectious diseases in wildlife, according to a new study from the University of Georgia. (2020-12-09)

AGU panel explores environmental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as observed from space
COVID-19 has changed the way we live and work, as various health and safety restrictions keep more of us at home more often. The resulting changes to our behavior are already impacting the environment around us in myriad ways, according to comparisons of remote sensing data before and during the pandemic collected by NASA, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and ESA (European Space Agency) Earth-observing satellites and others. (2020-12-08)

Research brief: Global trends in nature's contributions to people
A U of M-led study examined the risks to human well-being and prosperity stemming from ongoing environmental degradation. (2020-12-07)

Hydrogen-powered heavy duty vehicles could contribute significantly to achieving climate goals
A partial transition of German road transport to hydrogen energy is among the possibilities being discussed to help meet national climate targets. Researcher from the IASS have examined the hypothetical transition to a hydrogen-powered transport sector through several scenarios. Their conclusion: A shift towards hydrogen-powered mobility could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and greatly improve air quality - in particular, heavy duty vehicles represent a low-hanging fruit for decarbonization of German road transport. (2020-12-01)

Cooking with wood may cause lung damage
Advanced imaging with CT shows that people who cook with biomass fuels like wood are at risk of suffering considerable damage to their lungs from breathing in dangerous concentrations of pollutants and bacterial toxins, according to a study being presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). (2020-11-25)

Does air pollution affect mental health later in life?
In a study of women aged 80 years and older, living in locations with higher exposures to air pollution was associated with increased depressive symptoms. The findings are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. (2020-11-18)

Gut microbiome manipulation could result from virus discovery
Scientists have discovered how a common virus in the human gut infects and takes over bacterial cells - a finding that could be used to control the composition of the gut microbiome, which is important for human health. The Rutgers co-authored research, which could aid efforts to engineer beneficial bacteria that produce medicines and fuels and clean up pollutants, is published in the journal Nature. (2020-11-18)

Early-life events linked to lung health in young adulthood
Early-life events, such as the exposure to air pollutants, increases the risk of chronic lung disease in young adulthood, according to new results by researchers at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, published in the European Respiratory Journal and Thorax. The studies add to the growing evidence that chronic lung disease in adulthood can be traced back to childhood. (2020-11-12)

COVID-19 shutdown effect on air quality mixed
In April 2020, as remote work and social distancing policies were in place in Delaware and a number of other states, there was a sense the skies were clearer and less polluted with fewer people on the road. But new research from a team led by University of Delaware, Penn State and Columbia University researchers found a murkier picture. (2020-11-12)

Acute exposure to higher ozone levels linked to higher risk of cardiac arrest
Analysis of data from 187,000 patients found that higher ozone levels were associated with a higher risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. These findings may have important public health implications for recommendations on ozone regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2020-11-09)

Decrease in fossil-fuel CO2 emissions due to COVID-19 detected by atmospheric observations
Atmospheric observations at Hateruma Island, Japan, successfully detected the decrease in fossil-fuel CO2 emissions in China associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. The weather in Hateruma island is frequently influenced by the northwest monsoon travelling over China, which carries the emission signals of air pollutants. The observed ratios of CO2 and CH4 variabilities showed a significant decrease during February-March 2020, corresponding to about a 30% decrease in China's fossil-fuel CO2 emissions, according to a chemistry-transport model simulation. (2020-11-06)

Reduction of environmental pollutants for prevention of cardiovascular disease
A group of international scientists summarized the epidemiologic and mechanistic evidence in support of an association between noise and air pollution with cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and recommended comprehensive mitigation measures. (2020-11-06)

UMass Amherst research compares sensitivity of all genes to chemical exposure
A University of Massachusetts Amherst environmental health scientist has used an unprecedented objective approach to identify which molecular mechanisms in mammals are the most sensitive to chemical exposures. (2020-10-29)

Burning biomass fuels at home led to 32% of premature deaths from inhaling fine particles in China in 2014
The burning of biomass fuels such as wood and crop residues, which are often used for cooking and heating homes in rural China, contributed to 32% of an estimated 1,150,000 premature deaths caused by inhaling fine particle pollutants in China in 2014, according to a new study. Residential energy use of all types led to 67% of these premature deaths overall, the findings (2020-10-28)

Marine biology -- Sponges as biomonitors of micropollution
Sponges are filter feeders that live on particulate matter -- but they can also ingest microscopic fragments of plastics and other pollutants of anthropogenic origin. They can therefore serve as useful bioindicators of the health of marine ecosystems. (2020-10-23)

Legacy pollutants found in migratory terns in Great Lakes region
Chemicals that haven't been manufactured in the U.S. for years or even decades are still turning up in the bodies of migratory terns in the Great Lakes region, a new study finds. The research focused on three types of compounds: PBDEs, PCBs, and the breakdown products, called metabolites, of DDT. (2020-10-21)

Researchers step toward understanding how toxic PFAS chemicals spread from release sites
New lab studies are helping researchers to better understand how so called ''forever chemicals'' behave in soil and water, which can help in understanding how these contaminants spread. (2020-10-15)

RUDN University soil scientists: Green suburbs can be more harmful than city centers
A team of soil scientists from RUDN University confirmed that traditional approaches to urban soil pollution monitoring ignore actual risks for urban residents because they don't take into consideration the barrier function of the soil. The team used Moscow as an example to show that not only polluted downtown districts but also recreational parks and forest zones can pose a threat to people. (2020-10-07)

Urban air pollution may make COVID-19 more severe for some
As the pandemic persists, COVID-19 has claimed more than 200,000 lives in the United States and damaged the public health system and economy. In a study published on September 21 in the journal The Innovation, researchers at Emory University found that long-term exposure to urban air pollution may have made COVID-19 more deadly. (2020-10-07)

China's air pollutant reduction success could make it tougher to control climate change
China's success in improving air quality by cutting polluting emissions may have a negative knock-on effect on climate change overall, a new study has found. (2020-09-29)

In the arctic, extreme air pollution kills trees, limits growth by reducing sunlight
At the most heavily polluted site on Earth, dendroecology, dendrochemistry, and process-based forward modelling were used to explore the relationship of tree growth and mortality with industrial pollution. (2020-09-29)

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