Environment news

Mapping the vulnerability of European cities to climate change

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
A new study has assessed the vulnerability of 571 European cities to heatwaves, droughts and flooding caused by climate change. The causes of vulnerability differ across Europe and the researchers say the results could be used to design policies to mitigate the impacts.
Categories: Environment news

Relative environmental impact of nanosilver in products may be marginal compared with impacts of other components

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
A new study has analysed the environmental impact of 15 products containing nanosilver, highlighting the contribution of this novel material to the items’ overall environmental burden. The findings show that nanosilver impacts, such as fossil fuel depletion and human-health impacts, are relative to content, and can be marginal when considered in the context of the product’s other materials. Based on their results, the researchers recommend considering the overall impacts and benefits of nano-enabled products in evaluation and environmental guidance on their development.
Categories: Environment news

Three-quarters of all human releases of mercury have occurred since 1850

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
A new study has, for the first time, estimated total anthropogenic releases of mercury over the last 4 000 years, up to 2010. Overall, the study estimates that a total of 1 540 000 tonnes of mercury have been released; three-quarters of this since 1850, and 78 times more than was released through natural causes over this period. Therefore, human activity has been responsible for a significant level of contamination, and this inventory can be used to inform and assess mitigation measures. The publication coincides with the ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and the new EU Mercury Regulation1, which prohibits the export, import and manufacturing of mercury-added products, among other measures.
Categories: Environment news

Urban vegetation can react with car emissions to decrease air quality in summer (Berlin)

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
Researchers have shown that emissions from vehicles can react with emissions from urban trees and other plants, resulting in a decrease in air quality in cities in summer; this reduces the otherwise positive impacts of urban vegetation. The study, conducted in Berlin, showed that during a July heatwave, 20% of ozone concentrations were due to emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from vegetation interacting with other pollutants. To reduce this effect, lowering emissions of these other pollutants is crucial.
Categories: Environment news

New hazard index tool to aid risk assessment of exposure to multiple chemicals

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
Evaluating the level of danger to human health from exposure to multiple chemicals in contaminated sites is a complex task. To address this difficulty, researchers have developed a new screening tool that can be incorporated into public health risk assessment, which may include polluted former industrial plants, waste dumps, or even land where pesticides have been used. This ‘hazard index’ approach indicates when risk to health is high, which organs are most affected, and where further evaluation should be conducted in the context of environmental or occupational exposure at such sites.
Categories: Environment news

Risk model suggests nanomaterials could reach toxic levels in San Francisco Bay area

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
Although nanomaterials are already in widespread use, their risk to the environment is not completely understood. Researchers in the US have developed a next-generation risk-assessment model to better understand nanomaterials’ environmental impact. Applied to the San Francisco Bay area, the model predicted that even soluble nanomaterials could accumulate at toxic levels.
Categories: Environment news

Insights for urban planning — constructed wetlands sited near industry exposed to high levels of pollution

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
Constructed wetlands serve as a cost-effective and multi-purpose option for storm-water treatment in urban landscapes, offering flood protection as well as wildlife habitat. However, a new study shows that when nearby land use includes industry, wetlands can accumulate high levels of pollution and potentially become toxic to wildlife. This new piece of research offers important insights for the planning and management of wetlands.
Categories: Environment news

UV water treatment may increase antimicrobial activity of linezolid antibiotic

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
UV treatment does not always turn hazardous water pollutants into harmless substances. Recent lab tests suggest that the toxicity of the antibiotic linezolid to microorganisms appeared to increase post-treatment. This research did find, however, that UV treatment successfully reduced the antimicrobial activity of four other antibiotics tested, plus four artificial sweeteners.
Categories: Environment news

Data gathered by the public on UK butterfly populations could be useful for conservation

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
Researchers have compared the findings of a citizen-science project and a long-running butterfly monitoring scheme in the UK to gain insights into the reliability of data gathering by the public. They found that — contrary to the scepticism with which such projects are sometimes viewed — much of the citizen-recorded data agreed with the findings of more formal monitoring, particularly for species often found in gardens. This indicates that mass-participation sampling not only provides a valuable tool for public engagement, but, in this case, could also provide valid data to inform butterfly conservation.
Categories: Environment news

Taking stock: progress in natural capital accounting – November 2017

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
The growing human population and a shift to more resource-intensive habits and behaviours are increasing the demands on global ecosystems. Natural capital is a way to describe Earth’s natural assets, including soil, air, water, and living things, existing as complex ecosystems, which provide a range of services to humans. Depleting and degrading these reserves may irreversibly reduce the availability of benefits to future generations. This In-Depth Report presents an overview of ideas, debates and progress so far in natural capital accounting, in particular in accounting for ecosystems and their services.
Categories: Environment news

Visual soil evaluation — a key tool for better management of risks to soils

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
A new review of the potential uses of visual soil evaluation (VSE) shows how this tool can be used to indicate risks of erosion, compaction, greenhouse gas emission or storage and surface-water run-off. Assessing soils in this way is not only useful for agriculture, but has implications for the wider environment, due to the vital role that soil plays in the provision of ecosystem services, for example as a habitat for biodiversity and as a carbon sink.
Categories: Environment news

Implementation of innovative, resource-efficient urban water systems depends on wide-ranging cooperation

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
New technology that makes energy capture from waste water and re-use of grey water possible can contribute to energy- and resource efficiency — but the widespread application of such technology requires a new, collaborative approach, shows a new study. Taking radical innovation in urban water systems beyond the pilot stage will require cooperation between a variety of stakeholders, suggest the findings of expert interviews and workshops.
Categories: Environment news

Warming in the Channel leads to a decline in cold-water fish

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
Results from a long-term study of fish communities in the Bay of Somme in the English Channel show that numbers of cold-water fish, such as dab and plaice, have been dropping since 1998, as sea temperatures have risen. The researchers say this is evidence of ‘tropicalisation’ in an English-Channel ecosystem. The findings may have implications for conservation policies in the Bay, which is a Marine Protected Area1 designated under the Natura 2000 programme, as well as other marine sites affected by warming.
Categories: Environment news

Natural enemies of crop pests will feature in the future of environmentally friendly farming

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
Biological control agents are an environmentally-friendly way of controlling pests and diseases on crops and are advocated in the EU’s Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive1. The authors of a new review of the current state of biological control refer to a recent UN report2 which states that it is possible to produce enough food to feed a world population of nine billion with substantially less chemical pesticides — and even without these pesticides if sufficient effort is made to develop biocontrol-based Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods. The study suggests that policy measures can speed up the development and use of environmentally-friendly crop protection.
Categories: Environment news

Nordic countries demonstrate the potential of low-carbon energy policies

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
How are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden moving towards renewable and lower-carbon energy use? A recent study suggests the key areas for progress, to ensure Nordic countries meet low carbon goals, include more renewable and decentralised electricity supply, the development of low-carbon transport systems, improved energy efficiency in building design and industrial use of carbon capture and storage.
Categories: Environment news

GM risk assessments: the importance of in planta studies in the sustainable management of GM plants

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
Assessments of the effects on organisms likely to come into contact with genetically modified (GM) plants have been reviewed in a recent study. The researchers say such assessments help to understand the potential ecological impacts within the environment and are an important part of the risk assessments for GM plants.
Categories: Environment news

Microbes and enzymes: the future for bioremediation of PAH-contaminated soils?

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
Microbes and biocatalytic enzymes could offer useful tools for cleaning soils polluted with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), suggests a new review of remediation approaches. However, risk assessments and further work are needed before their use can be extended beyond the lab to realworld situations. This comprehensive overview of available and novel methods indicates their constraints and potential for future development and research.
Categories: Environment news

Chinese supply of critical raw materials could pose long-term risks to European wind- and solar-energy industries

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
A recent study has analysed risks to European renewable industries from the Chinese supply of critical raw materials. The offshore wind sector was found to be the most vulnerable of the renewable industries to supply risks. EU and industry strategies should be able to deal with these supply risks in the short term, but there are potential long-term risks to solar and wind sectors. The development of alternative technologies less reliant on these raw materials, and methods to recycle these materials is, therefore, a priority.
Categories: Environment news

Reducing railway noise and vibration: life-cycle assessments can help decide the best measures

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
The measures available to reduce the noise and vibration produced by trains have been outlined in a recent study. The researchers say the most appropriate mitigation should be determined on a case-by-case basis and life-cycle assessments can help analyse the economic costs and carbon footprint of different methods.
Categories: Environment news

Study suggests anaerobic digestion may reduce microplastics in sewage sludge

DG ENV - Fri, 07/09/2018 - 18:31
European policy permits the application of nutrient-rich sewage sludge on agricultural land as a means of recycling1. However, contamination of sludge with microplastics may pose a risk to ecosystems. This study looked at the characteristics of microplastics in sewage sludge after three types of waste-water treatment, finding that anaerobic digestion should be explored as a method of microplastic reduction.
Categories: Environment news

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