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The Lead

Air Pollution Spikes on July 4

July 3, 2015 12:00 pm | by NOAA | News | Comments

From our nation's founding, the Fourth of July has been synonymous with fireworks. Fireworks produce air pollutants, including particulate matter, that are linked to short-term or long-term health effects. Now, scientists have authored a study that quantifies the surge in fine particulate matter.
 

Five Years in the Making: BP Reaches Settlement with Gulf States

July 2, 2015 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Kevin McGill | News | Comments

BP and five Gulf states announced an $18.7 billion settlement Thursday that resolves years of...

Subatomic Particles May Help Detect Damaged Pipes

July 1, 2015 7:00 am | by Inside Science News Service, Charles Choi | News | Comments

Of all the parts of the nation's infrastructure that one might want least to fail, nuclear power...

Image of the Week: Foraging is More Sustainable than Grain Feeds

June 30, 2015 2:20 pm | by Springer | News | Comments

Small-scale livestock farming in the tropics can become more intensive yet sustainable if more...

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SCOTUS Rules Against EPA

June 29, 2015 2:20 pm | by Associated Press, Sam Hananel | News | Comments

The Supreme Court ruled Monday against the Obama administration's attempt to limit power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants, but it may only be a temporary setback for regulators. The justices split 5 to 4 along ideological lines to rule that the EPA failed to take cost into account when it first decided to regulate the toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired plants.

Legal Weed Damages the Environment

June 25, 2015 2:20 pm | by UC Berkeley | News | Comments

The debate over the legalization of marijuana has focused primarily on questions of law, policy and health. But a new paper shines a spotlight on the environment as an underappreciated victim of the plant’s growing popularity as a cash crop.

Fermentation Discovery Key to New Biofuels

June 25, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Engineering | News | Comments

Researchers have, for the first time, uncovered the complex interdependence and orchestration of metabolic reactions, gene regulation and environmental cues of clostridial metabolism, providing new insights for advanced biofuel development.

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'Jelly' Clothes May Reduce Agricultural Waste

June 24, 2015 2:20 pm | by ACS | News | Comments

From gummy bears to silky mousses, gelatin is essential for making some of our favorite sweets. Now, scientists are exploring another use for the common food ingredient: spinning it into yarn so it can be made into clothing.

Heat Wave-causing Weather Patterns Are More Frequent

June 24, 2015 2:20 pm | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | News | Comments

Daily weather patterns have changed in recent decades, making eastern North America, Europe and western Asia more prone to nastier summer heat waves that go beyond global warming, a new study has found.

Court: Dutch Gov’t Must Cut 25% of Emissions

June 24, 2015 2:20 pm | by Associated Press, Mike Corder | News | Comments

In a sweeping victory for Dutch environmental activists that could have global repercussions, a court ordered the government Wednesday to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 percent by 2020. The ruling by The Hague District Court could lay the foundations for similar cases around the world.

Invasive Flatworm Spreading to U.S., Caribbean

June 24, 2015 9:55 am | by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter | News | Comments

The New Guinea flatworm is a highly invasive species from Pacific with a taste for snails. And its rapid spread is threatening a growing list of continents and countries, including the mainland U.S., says a French research team.

Road Noise Linked to Deaths, Strokes

June 24, 2015 7:00 am | by London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine | News | Comments

Living in an area with noisy road traffic may reduce life expectancy, according to new research that analyzed data for 8.6 million people living in London between 2003 and 2010. The find suggests a link between long-term exposure to road traffic noise and deaths, as well as a greater risk of stroke, particularly in the elderly.

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Destructive Southern Pine Beetle Migrates North

June 22, 2015 8:42 am | by Associated Press, Frank Eltman | News | Comments

The southern pine beetle, which for generations has attacked forests throughout the southeastern U.S., is methodically making its way into the Northeast, destroying thousands of trees in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere.

Massive Study Shows Mega Wastewater Injections Cause More Quakes

June 19, 2015 2:20 pm | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | News | Comments

The more oil and gas companies pump their saltwater waste into the ground, and the faster they do it, the more they have triggered earthquakes in the central U.S., a massive new study found. An unprecedented recent jump in quakes in America's heartland can be traced to the stepped up rate that drilling wastewater is injected deep below the surface.

Gov’t Wants More Stringent Standards for Trucks

June 19, 2015 2:20 pm | by Associated Press, Matthew Daly | News | Comments

The Obama administration on Friday proposed tougher mileage standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks. The EPA issued new rules that would lower carbon dioxide emissions from trucks and vans by 24 percent by 2027. It would cut fuel costs by about $170 billion and reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of vehicles sold under the rules.

Sixth Mass Extinction is Here, Threatening Humanity, Says Stanford Scientist

June 19, 2015 2:04 pm | by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter | News | Comments

A mass die-off of species is just beginning– and it could rival the turbulent times that killed off the dinosaurs, says new research. Humanity could also be put on the endangered list through the sixth mass extinction in global history.

One-third of Earth’s Groundwater Being Rapidly Sucked Up by Humans, NASA Says

June 18, 2015 9:54 am | by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter | News | Comments

Thirteen of the planet’s 37 largest aquifers were being depleted between 2003 and 2013, according to scientists who used NASA satellites to analyze the big picture. A third of the world’s largest groundwater basins are quickly losing volume, as humans consume it without really knowing how much is left.

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Battery Turns Light Into Power

June 18, 2015 7:00 am | by ACS | Videos | Comments

To move the world toward sustainability, scientists are continuing to explore and improve ways to tap the vast power of sunlight to make fuels and generate electricity. Now, they have come up with a brand-new way to use light— solar or artificial— to drive battery power safely.

400,000-year-old Dental Tartar is Earliest Evidence of Man-made Pollution

June 17, 2015 2:20 pm | by American Friends of Tel Aviv Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have uncovered evidence of food and potential respiratory irritants entrapped in the dental calculus of 400,000-year-old teeth. The study provides direct evidence of what early Paleolithic people ate and the quality of the air they breathed.

Laboratory Equipment: June 2015

June 17, 2015 10:35 am | by Michelle Taylor, Editor-in-Chief | Digital Editions | Comments

The June issue of Laboratory Equipment features a cover story on how to "green" your lab bench, with advice from experts in the field. Other articles detail a controversial crime lab in D.C., the authentication of honey and olive oil, food research at the microscale and the debate over whether to rent or buy lab instrumentation. 

DDT’s Health Effects Continue to Ripple with New Breast Cancer Link

June 17, 2015 10:19 am | by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter | News | Comments

DDT was a wonder pesticide, which turned the tide on everything from bed bugs to malaria-carrying mosquitoes during the 20th century. But, even after its health and environmental effects were acknowledged and its agricultural use was banned in 1972, its toxic legacy continues.

French Official Calls for Stop to Nutella Due to Environmental Damage

June 17, 2015 8:59 am | by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter | News | Comments

The chocolate wars in France continue. Segolene Royal, France’s ecology minister, has urged people to stop eating Nutella, a popular chocolate spread, because its production damages the environment.

Algal Blooms Behind Dams Create Health Risks Far Downstream

June 17, 2015 7:00 am | by Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

A new study has found that toxic algal blooms in reservoirs on the Klamath River can travel more than 180 miles downriver in a few days, survive passage through hydroelectric turbines and create unsafe water conditions on lower parts of the river in northern California.

After Pope’s Statement, IEA Has Some Hope on Climate Change

June 16, 2015 2:29 pm | by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter | News | Comments

Pope Francis’s much-anticipated encyclical calling for a global call to action painted a potentially grim future for the planet. The same day, the International Energy Agency threw a bit of hopeful optimism into the mix. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions remained flat, despite the global economy growth of 3 percent last year and renewable energy sources made up half of all new power generated in 2014.

Stop Talking About Polar Bears When Discussing Climate

June 16, 2015 2:20 pm | by Michigan State Univ. | News | Comments

From heat waves to damaged crops to asthma in children, climate change is about more than melting ice caps and images of the Earth on fire. When we talk about climate change, according to a professor, we can’t just talk about money and jobs and polar bears. Climate change isn’t just people hurting polar bears: it’s people hurting people.

Pope Francis’ Call for Climate Change Action Leaked by Italian Press

June 16, 2015 9:36 am | by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter | News | Comments

Pope Francis’s long-awaited encyclical concerning climate change and environmental policy was leaked yesterday by an Italian magazine, three days early of its anticipated arrival. The document calls for global action on solving ecological disaster and invokes strong theological ties to the Bible, decrying the “evil” that humans have wrought by polluting and harming the ecology of the Earth.

Water Shortage, Reuse is a Social Problem

June 16, 2015 8:54 am | by Michelle Taylor, Editor-in-Chief and Jon Dipierro, Multimedia Production | Videos | Comments

In this one-minute video, hear from an expert in water sustainability regarding the economic and social challenges of water purification and reuse. Are these challenges holding back the potential of modern water technology?

Starving Polar Bears Feast on Dolphins, Due to Changing Climate

June 15, 2015 10:03 am | by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter | News | Comments

Polar bears in the Arctic typically eat seals and certain types of fish. But, with climatic change, they’ve been starving in some parts of the world as their icy habitat shrinks and the food sources become scarcer.

Keep Cool without Killing Earth

June 15, 2015 7:00 am | by ACS | Videos | Comments

We've had the delightful benefits of air conditioning and refrigeration for more than a hundred years now. In the early days, dangerous chemicals were used as refrigerants. Eventually, chlorofluorocarbons were developed. Then, we learned they were damaging, too.

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