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  • News

    4 ways to tackle ocean trash besides Ocean Cleanup’s broken system

    Cleaning up ocean pollution is no simple task, as an effort to fish plastic out of the Pacific Ocean is revealing.

    In September, scientists launched a 600-meter-long boom meant to herd plastic debris from the great Pacific garbage patch into a net (SN Online: 9/7/18). The trash accumulation, which is twice the size of Texas, swirls in waters between California and Hawaii.

    But some...

    01/04/2019 - 15:48 Pollution
  • News

    Satellites make mapping hot spots of ammonia pollution easier

    Satellites may be a more accurate way to track smog-producing ammonia.

    It’s notoriously tricky to pinpoint accurate numbers for ammonia gas emissions from sources such as animal feedlots and fertilizer plants. But new maps, generated from infrared radiation measurements gathered by satellites, reveal global ammonia hot spots in greater detail than before. The new data suggest that...

    01/04/2019 - 07:00 Pollution, Climate
  • Feature

    Engineers are plugging holes in drinking water treatment

    Off a gravel road at the edge of a college campus — next door to the town’s holding pen for stray dogs — is a busy test site for the newest technologies in drinking water treatment.

    In the large shed-turned-laboratory, University of Massachusetts Amherst engineer David Reckhow has started a movement. More people want to use his lab to test new water treatment technologies than the...

    11/25/2018 - 06:00 Pollution, Health
  • Science Stats

    Car tires and brake pads produce harmful microplastics

    There’s a big problem where the rubber meets the road: microplastics.

    Scientists analyzed more than 500 small particles pulled from the air around three busy German highways, and found that the vast majority — 89 percent — came from vehicle tires, brake systems and roads themselves. All together, these particles are classified by the researchers as microplastics, though they include...

    11/12/2018 - 08:38 Pollution, Technology
  • Science & the Public

    We’re probably undervaluing healthy lakes and rivers

    For sale: Pristine lake. Price negotiable.

    Most U.S. government attempts to quantify the costs and benefits of protecting the country’s bodies of water are likely undervaluing healthy lakes and rivers, researchers argue in a new study. That’s because some clean water benefits get left out of the analyses, sometimes because these benefits are difficult to pin numbers on. As a result, the...

    10/14/2018 - 08:00 Pollution, Science & Society
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers contemplate water on Mars and more

    Life signs

    Scientists estimate that there are roughly 10 billion liters of liquid water beneath a polar glacier on Mars, Lisa Grossman reported in “Mars (probably) has a lake of liquid water” (SN: 8/18/18 & 9/1/18, p. 6).

    Some online readers wondered what the detection meant for the possibility of life on the Red Planet.

    Grossman wrote about the lake’s implications for life...

    09/26/2018 - 07:00 Planetary Science, Pollution, Technology
  • The Science Life

    Confused mayflies wreak havoc on a Pennsylvania bridge

    Mayflies swarming a central Pennsylvania bridge over the Susquehanna River are a good thing, and a bad thing. Before the 1972 Clean Water Act, the river was too polluted to support the primitive aquatic insects. So their comeback is a sign that the water is healthier, says forensic entomologist John Wallace of nearby Millersville University.

    But those swarms have become a nighttime...

    09/16/2018 - 08:00 Ecosystems, Pollution
  • News

    A massive net is being deployed to pick up plastic in the Pacific

    The days of the great Pacific garbage patch may be numbered.

    A highly anticipated project to scoop up plastic from the massive pool of ocean debris is poised to launch its first phase from Alameda, Calif., on September 8. The creators of the project, called the Ocean Cleanup, say their system can remove 90 percent of the plastic in the patch by 2040.

    First proposed in a 2012 TED...

    09/07/2018 - 17:36 Oceans, Pollution
  • Science Visualized

    Air pollution is shaving a year off our average life expectancy

    Breathing dirty air exacts a price — specifically, months, or even years, off of life.

    On average worldwide, air pollution shaves a year off of human life expectancy, scientists report August 22 in Environmental Science & Technology Letters. In more polluted regions of Asia and Africa, lives are shortened by 1.5 to two years on average.

    The study, using 2016 country data from...

    08/22/2018 - 13:35 Health, Pollution
  • News

    Wildfires are making extreme air pollution even worse in the northwest U.S.

    The northwestern United States has become an air pollution hot spot — literally.

    Air quality in states from Nevada to Montana is worse than it was 30 years ago on the days with the most extreme air pollution. Bigger and more frequent wildfires that spew plumes of fine particulate matter into the sky are largely to blame, researchers report July 16 in Proceedings of the National Academy...

    07/16/2018 - 15:19 Pollution, Climate