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  • News

    New material could filter water contaminants that others miss

    A new material can pull a toxic, hard-to-degrade industrial chemical from drinking water more effectively than current methods.

    Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, hangs around in the environment for years and might cause health problems for people and animals. A new polymer material traps PFOA molecules, making them easy to filter out of water, researchers report in the June 14 Journal of...

    06/20/2017 - 16:23 Toxicology, Pollution
  • Science Ticker

    U.S. will withdraw from climate pact, Trump announces

    President Donald Trump announced on June 1 that the United States will pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    In signing the 2015 Paris agreement, the United States, along with 194 other countries, pledged to curb greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. But Trump — who has called climate change a “hoax” despite scientific evidence to the contrary — promised during his campaign...

    06/01/2017 - 17:58 Climate, Pollution, Science & Society
  • News

    When it’s hot, plants become a surprisingly large source of air pollution

    Planting trees is often touted as a strategy to make cities greener, cleaner and healthier. But during heat waves, city trees actually boost air pollution levels. When temperatures rise, as much as 60 percent of ground-level ozone is created with the help of chemicals emitted by urban shrubbery, researchers report May 17 in Environmental Science & Technology.

    While the findings seem...

    05/17/2017 - 17:33 Pollution
  • News

    Peace and quiet is becoming more elusive in U.S. wild areas

    Even in the wilderness, humans are making a ruckus.

    In 63 percent of America’s protected places — including parks, monuments and designated wilderness areas — sounds made by human activity are doubling the volume of background noise. And in 21 percent of protected places, this racket can make things 10 times noisier.  

    Enough clatter from cars, planes and suburban sprawl is seeping...

    05/04/2017 - 14:00 Pollution, Conservation
  • News

    ‘Fossil’ groundwater is not immune to modern-day pollution

    Groundwater that has lingered in Earth’s depths for more than 12,000 years is surprisingly vulnerable to modern pollution from human activities. Once in place, that pollution could stick around for thousands of years, researchers report online April 25 in Nature Geoscience. Scientists previously assumed such deep waters were largely immune to contamination from the surface.

    “We can’t...

    04/25/2017 - 16:12 Sustainability, Pollution, Earth
  • News

    Plot twist in methane mystery blames chemistry, not emissions, for recent rise

    A recent upsurge in planet-warming methane may not be caused by increasing emissions, as previously thought, but by methane lingering longer in the atmosphere.

    That’s the conclusion of two independent studies that indirectly tracked concentrations of hydroxyl, a highly reactive chemical that rips methane molecules apart. Hydroxyl levels in the atmosphere decreased roughly 7 or 8 percent...

    04/20/2017 - 08:00 Climate, Pollution, Chemistry
  • Science Ticker

    The Arctic is a final garbage dump for ocean plastic

    The Arctic Ocean is a final resting place for plastic debris dumped into the North Atlantic Ocean, new research suggests.

    A 2013 circumpolar expedition discovered hundreds of tons of plastic debris, from fishing lines to plastic films, ecologist Andrés Cózar of the University of Cádiz in Spain and colleagues report April 19 in Science Advances. While many areas remain relatively...

    04/19/2017 - 14:10 Oceans, Pollution
  • News in Brief

    The Arctic is a final garbage dump for ocean plastic

    The Arctic Ocean is a final resting place for plastic debris dumped into the North Atlantic Ocean, new research suggests.

    A 2013 circumpolar expedition discovered hundreds of metric tons of plastic debris (some shown), from fishing lines to plastic films, ecologist Andrés Cózar of the University of Cádiz in Spain and colleagues report April 19 in Science Advances. While many areas remain...

    04/19/2017 - 14:10 Oceans, Pollution
  • Science & the Public

    When coal replaces a cleaner energy source, health is on the line

    Where I grew up in Tennessee, a coal-fired power plant perches by the river, just down from the bridge that my wild brothers and their friends would jump off in the summer. Despite the proximity, I never thought too much about the power plant and the energy it was churning out.

    But then I read an April 3 Nature Energy paper on coal-fired energy production that used my town — and others...

    04/04/2017 - 14:30 Pollution, Health
  • News

    Climate change may boost toxic mercury levels in sea life

    The muddying of coastal waters by climate change could drastically increase levels of neurotoxic mercury in sea life, contaminating food supplies.

    Shifting rainfall patterns may send 10 to 40 percent more water filled with dissolved bits of organic debris into many coastal areas by 2100. The material can cloud the water, disrupting marine ecosystems by shifting the balance of microbes at...

    01/27/2017 - 14:10 Oceans, Pollution, Climate