Separate waste-water treatment of urine could have lower environmental impact than centralised, combined waste-water treatment
Municipal wastewater is a major source of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment. Results from a recent study suggest that collecting and treating urine separately from other forms of sewage could be a cost-effective way to reduce the harmful effects of pharmaceuticals on the environment, while also providing a source of nutrients for fertilising agricultural crops.
Researchers have developed a straightforward approach to help small to medium enterprises (SMEs) analyse their energy use and increase efficiency. They tested the methodology on 280 businesses in Europe, which, as a result, invested more than €10m in energy-saving measures. The measures reduced energy use by 6 500 toe (tonnes of oil equivalent) per year and avoided 13 500 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
As the sources and severity of noise pollution continue to grow, there is a need for new approaches to reduce exposure. This Future Brief looks at the complex and pervasive problem of noise pollution: a problem with no single solution, requiring a combination of short-, medium- and long-term approaches and careful consideration of the nature of the noise source.
A common anti-parasitic drug used to control gastrointestinal worms in livestock has been shown to inhibit seed germination of three common grassland species. This recent study is the first to show that anthelmintics may negatively affect plant regeneration. The researchers say that treatments should be carefully timed in order to avoid the strongest impact of the drugs on germination and the consequential negative affect on grassland regeneration.
Responding to floods in Europe: new framework assesses effectiveness of Flood Emergency Management Systems
A new framework has been developed to assess how effective Flood Emergency Management Systems (FEMS) are in Europe. Examining FEMS in five European countries, this study highlights the strengths and weaknesses of existing systems and makes recommendations for improving their effectiveness, particularly in relation to institutional learning, community preparedness and recovery.
Fishing in most of Norway’s counties is at ‘moderate’ to ‘high’ risk from ocean acidification, concludes a new study. The researchers reached this conclusion with the use of an integrated risk-assessment method that accounts for environmental, economic and social factors within the 19 counties. They call for immediate action to protect the fishing industry against the effects of ocean acidification.
The world could experience the highest ever global sea-level rise in the history of human civilisation if global temperature rises exceed 2 °C, predicts a new study. Under current carbon-emission rates, this temperature rise will occur around the middle of this century, with damaging effects on coastal businesses and ecosystems, while also triggering major human migration from low-lying areas. Global sea-level rise will not be uniform, and will differ for different points of the globe.
Traces of animals’ DNA in the environment, known as environmental DNA (eDNA), can be monitored to paint a picture of biodiversity, new research shows. This study used eDNA to assess biodiversity in an entire river catchment in Switzerland. Importantly, the eDNA technique allowed the researchers to detect both aquatic and land-based species in river water, making it possible to assess biodiversity over a broad scale.
Combinations of antibiotics used in veterinary medicine could harm the growth of algal communities when they pass into water bodies from treated livestock, according to recent European research. Algae play vital roles in ecosystems by cycling nutrients and producing energy from photosynthesis; veterinary use of antibiotics should, therefore, be monitored in the environment, including for any biological impacts on algal species, the study recommends.
Recycled waste material could play a major role in the construction of roads in Europe, bringing both environmental and economic benefits. A new study proposes a scenario where 50% of the asphalt for Europe’s roads consists of recycled materials, leading to significant reductions in costs, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Oilseed rape genes transfer from inside to outside of crop fields: study could aid GM risk assessment
This study is one of few to assess the genetic diversity of crops in an agroecosystem over several years. Researchers analysed the genetic makeup of oilseed rape plants within and outside crop fields over four years. They found similarity between cultivars of field plants in one year and those of feral plants (unplanted) in the following year. They also found persistence of the cultivars within the feral plants, which suggests that feral populations with genetically modified (GM) traits might result from persistent GM traits within field seed banks. The researchers say their findings could aid impact assessments of GM crops.
European Commission - Press release Brussels, 7 September 2018 On Wednesday 12 September, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will deliver his fourth State of the Union Address in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
European Commission - Upcoming events The news: On Wednesday 12 September 2018, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, will deliver his State of the Union Address at the European Parliament. This year's speech comes ahead of the 2019 European elections and in the midst of the ongoing debate...
European Commission - Statement Brussels, 21 August 2018 Today marks fifty years since the hopes and aspirations of the Prague Spring were crushed with force in one of the most tragic and bitter episodes in modern Europe's history.
Statement by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on the passing away of former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan
European Commission - Statement Brussels, 18 August 2018 It was with deep sadness that I learnt this morning of the passing of my old friend and inspiration, Kofi Annan. On behalf of myself and the European Commission, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to his wife...
European Commission - Statement Brussels, 14 August 2018 Delighted by the news of the imminent release of the two Greek soldiers detained in Turkey. As I said in Varna, Turkey has nothing to fear from its European neighbours. The EU will remain engaged in this strategic partnership.
European Commission - Statement Brussels, 14 August 2018 I am deeply saddened by the bridge collapse in Genoa today that has claimed many lives. On behalf of the European Commission, I express my deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who have died,...
EU-U.S. Joint Statement of 25 July: European Union imports of U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) are on the rise
European Commission - Press release Brussels, 9 August 2018 Since the arrival of the first U.S. LNG carrier in the Portuguese port of Sines April 2016 and today, EU imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. have increased from zero to 2.8 billion cubic meters.
How can ‘omics’ technologies – which enable large-scale, speedy biological data analysis – improve environmental risk assessment and management?
High-throughput ‘omics’ technologies, which allow exact and synchronised study of thousands of DNA, RNA, proteins and other molecules, are rapidly becoming more advanced and affordable. As these technologies develop, it is becoming quicker, easier and more affordable to generate unprecedented amounts of biological data, much of which could usefully inform environmental management. So far, however, the application of omics information in environmental management has failed to keep pace with the rapid development of omics-based research, meaning there is untapped potential. A recent study highlights the value of bringing omics information into environmental management and outlines practical ways in which omics can contribute to the risk assessment and management of chemicals.
‘Green’ decontamination methods for 1,4-dioxane (solvent linked to cancer, found in paints and cosmetics) offer promise of cleaner water
The chemical 1,4-dioxane, a solvent suspected of causing cancer, is very difficult to clean up once it enters the environment. However, hope is offered by recent scientific developments that use plants, bacteria and fungi to decontaminate water resources. Scientists provided a round-up of these 1,4-dioxane bioremediation techniques in a recent analysis.