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Pollution

This category contains 49 posts

BAD BOYZ 2.0. Emerging environmental contaminants

Our generation is facing environmental challenges not only from commonly-known contaminants, but also emerging ones, which have been lurking in the shadows until recently. Check this week’s post to know more about these (sometimes surprising) pollutants, and their effects!

Happy World Oceans Day!

Happy World Oceans Day! A day to celebrate and appreciate the fantastic oceans, while also raising awareness of the importance of minding and minimizing our impacts.

The oil droplet is quite terrified

Oil Spill Snorkels: Eating oil, breathing electrons, saving the world?

Oil spills are not great for the environment, but some bacteria thrive on eating oil. Scientists have been researching ways to use these natural oil degrading bacteria to clean up oil contaminated areas. A group in Italy adapted graphite rods to encourage marine mud bacteria to degrade oil more quickly. They call this the “Oil Spill Snorkel”. Read on to find out more about how and why this works, and some of the other ways we can naturally clean up the earth!

Spotlight on Constructed Wetlands

Wetlands are one of the world’s powerhouses for ecosystem services, filtering our water, controlling coastal erosion, and providing feeding and nursery habitat for a huge variety of wildlife. They are super productive, containing plant species that grow fast and therefore contribute a huge influx of organic material to the system when they die and start […]

Microplastics demystified: a review examining how these tiny plastics act in pollutant transfer

Paper: Lohmann, R. Microplastics Are Not Important for the Cycling and Bioaccumulation of Organic Pollutants in the Oceans—but Should Microplastics Be Considered POPs Themselves? 2017. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 13, 460-465. DOI: 10.1002/ieam.1914 Not so fantastic plastic The development of plastic revolutionized daily life. We owe our convenient modern lifestyle to these polymers in […]

The end of the line for ocean plastics

A team of researchers set out on an Expedition around the Arctic Ocean to prove what scientists have long suspected: plastic debris is carried by ocean currents to a far corner of the Arctic Ocean where it reaches a dead end and is causing a massive plastic pile up.

Tarballs invading our coastlines: Ghosts of oil spills past

We live in a world that is torn between reliance on fossil fuels and renewable energy. Although we have made great strides towards increasing wind and solar energy, the ghosts of oil spills past are washing up on our shorelines.

MARPOL-ling in the Right Direction

Posted by Steven Koch Research article: Zetterdahl, M., Jana Moldanov, J., Xiangyu Pei, X., Pathak, R. K., Demirdjian, B. (2016). Impact of the 0.1% fuel sulfur content limit in SECA on particle and gaseous emissions from marine vessels. Elseveir, Atmospheric Environment, 145 (2016) 338-345. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.09.022 Background Air pollution is an important issue that adversely […]

Manmade Pollutants Plague Deep-sea Organsims

Scientists have found an alarming accumulation of certain persistent organic pollutants in an environment previously thought pristine and untouched by humans: the deep sea.

First evidence of plastic microfibre consumption by deep-sea animals

For the first time ever, scientists have found evidence that deep sea animals are actually consuming plastic microfibres. Read more about the study and why we should care.

Let’s Ghost Fishing for Halloween!

Ghost fishing is ghastly because it creates underwater graveyards for wildlife. The authors covered here wrote a new review of gear entanglement among mammals, reptiles, and sharks. Find out what they discovered by reading today’s post!

A Junkyard in the Belly of a Whale

A candy wrapper, plastic bags, car parts, packing materials, and fishing gear… it sounds like a list of things you might come across at a landfill or a junkyard, but actually it’s what researchers have found in the bellies of sperm whales. Scientists from Germany, the Netherlands, and France went searching to find out what’s in the belly of a whale, but they didn’t find Pinocchio. Instead, they found a slew of marine debris discarded from human activities.

From Wastewater to Seahorses to the Medicine Cabinet

Pollution of metals could be getting into the tissue of seahorses–the very tissues that are used to make a special Chinese medicine. Now scientists fear that the metal pollutants could harm the patients who take the medicine. Read more to find out what they learned about the accumulation of metals in seahorse tissues.

Small fish dine on small plastics and that’s a BIG problem

We’ve heard a lot about plastics in the ocean, but a new study shows the ecological implications of fish eating plastic. Here, researchers found that larval fish are preferentially consuming microplastics and it’s stunting their growth, altering their behavior, and increases death rates.

To I.D. Debris: LIDAR as a tool to identify trash on the beach

Scientists may have a new option for figuring out how much debris litters our beaches and what it all is! Find out more in today’s World Oceans Day post on marine debris!

Flying high: the ospreys are alright!

Chesapeake Bay osprey populations were at an all-time low in the 1970’s due in part to pesticides like DDT. Forty years later, organic pollutant concentrations in eggs and fledglings are on the decline and observations from 2011-2012 suggest there were no large scale effects of organic contaminants on osprey productivity.

Plankton are eating plastic!

Zooplankton, the tiny animals that make up the base of marine food webs, are ingesting microplastics. Given the widespread abundance of microplastics in the ocean, this finding could have serious ramifications for zooplankton and their predators.

Mercury at elevated levels observed in only some elephant seals, but why?

Mercury: we know it from old-school thermometers and we know if from sushi; and now we know that the distribution in the ocean is reflected in the blood of northern elephant seals. N.B. No elephant seals were harmed during this research.

Cohos in Dirty Water: Salmon and Pollution

Coho salmon are one of the six species of Pacific salmon. They can be found from California to Alaska, but from California to Oregon their populations are in bad shape. A new study in Applied Ecology tries to determine if pollution from urban runoff may be partly to blame.

The new fad diet for sea turtles? Plastics

Paper: Wedemeyer, K. R., George, S., James, H. B., Peterson, T. D., Wicksten, M. K. and Plotkin, P. T. (2015). High frequency of occurrence of anthropogenic debris ingestion by sea turtles in the North Pacific Ocean. Mar. Biol. Background If you’re a coastal resident, I’m sure you see the same thing as I do when I […]

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