Environment: Ozone may strengthen potency of allergens

Layers ... captured with iPhone HDR imaging.

Got pollen?

Study links climate change and pollution with growing allergy epidemic

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming has already been implicated in the rising tide of allergies, simply because a warmer climate extends the growing season for many plants, or causes them to produce more pollen.

But there’s more to it, according to scientists, who say that a pair of air pollutants linked to climate change could also be a major contributor to the unparalleled rise in the number of people sneezing, sniffling and wheezing during allergy season. Continue reading

Environment: Study shows endocrine-disrupting chemicals can affect multiple generations of fish

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New study confirms the transgenic impacts of endocrine disrupting pollutants in aquatic species.

Researchers warn of long-term impacts to aquatic ecosystems

Staff Report

FRISCO — Fish exposed to trace amounts of endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA  may not show any immediate ill effects, but the adverse impacts can show up three generations later, researchers said after conducting lab tests that confirm the transgenic effects of the pollutants.

The chemicals are part of a new class of pollutants that often aren’t addressed by traditional water treatment facilities, and aquatic environments are the ultimate reservoirs for many of the contaminants, some of which mimic the functions of natural hormones. Continue reading

Environment: Deep-sea fish not immune to pollution

New study finds liver damage and tumors in fish living a mile deep off the coast of France

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Even fish living deep in remote oceans are tainted by pollution.

Staff Report

FRISCO — As big and as deep as Earth’s oceans are, they’re still feeling the sting of human-caused pollution. Even a mile down, some fish have liver pathologies, tumors and other types of health problems that are often linked with exposure to toxic chemicals and carcinogens, according to a new study conducted in the Bay of Biscay, off the coast of France.

The study also discovered the first case of a deep water fish species with an “intersex” condition, a blend of male and female sex organs. The sampling was done in an area with no apparent point-source pollution, and appears to reflect general ocean conditions.

“Deep in the ocean one might have thought that the level of contamination and its biological impact would be less,” said Michael Kent, an Oregon State University microbiologist who co-authored the new study. “That may not be the case. The pathological changes we’re seeing are clearly the type associated with exposure to toxins and carcinogens,” said Kent, one of the study’s co-authors. Continue reading

Proposed Senate bill addresses oil train safety

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Oil train routes in the U.S. Map courtesy Center for Biological Diversity.

‘It’s painfully clear something needs to be done to protect people and the environment from the mounting dangers of these oil trains’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A series of common-sense steps could help reduce the risk of fiery oil train crashes, a quartet of Democratic senators said this week, introducing legislation that would remove the most dangerous tank cars from service, increase track inspections, and help better prepare first responders.

The bill would also require the U.S. Department of Transportation to set a national standard for the maximum volatility of oil being transported by rail, which would help prevent the massive explosions that followed recent derailments in Canada and West Virginia.

The derailments during the past few months show the risks associated with transporting crude oil by train, a practice that has increased dramatically. Five years ago, very little crude oil was hauled by the nation’s railroads. Today, more than 1.1 million barrels per day move by rail, largely originating in the Midwest. There have been four fiery derailments involving oil trains in North America since the start of February. Continue reading

Climate Voices project connects scientists with communities looking to learn more about global warming

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Real science, from real scientists.

Expert speakers available in all 50 states

Staff Report

FRISCO — Debates about global warming can quickly descend into murky territory, especially if they take place in a political context. But communities looking for straightforward and nonpartisan scientific information can find from a science speakers network that includes climate experts from all 50 states.

The Climate Voices Initiative was launched last year by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and the United Nations Foundation, aiming to bring  together scientists with members of local communities to discuss climate science and regional effects of climate change. Continue reading

Climate study raises questions about ice age triggers

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New questions about ice age triggers, based on research from New Zealand.

Ice sheet behavior doesn’t match up in northern, southern hemispheres

Staff Report

FRISCO — A close study of glaciers in New Zealand has given scientists some startling insights into the global cycle of ice ages, suggesting that the path of the Earth’s orbit around the sun may not be the main driver of glacial epochs.

Instead, the new study concluded that glacier movement in the Southern Hemisphere is influenced primarily by sea surface temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide rather than changes in the Earth’s orbit, which are thought to drive the advance and retreat of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. The findings appear in the journal Geology. Continue reading

Environment: Green sea turtles making a comeback

Federal biologists proposal to revamp endangered species listing recognizes conservation progress and allows for more site-specific management

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A green sea turtle swims near the seafloor of the Pacific. Photo courtesy Andy Bruckner/NOAA.

Staff Report

* More Summit Voice stories about sea turtles

FRISCO — Conservation and recovery efforts under the Endangered Species Act have helped green sea turtles around Florida and Mexico’s Pacific Coast recover to the point that federal biologists have proposed downlisting the species from endangered to threatened. Continue reading

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