Climate models may be significantly underestimating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by fresh water streams, researchers said in a new study released this week.
Published in the journal Ecological Monographs, the findings suggest that human disturbances on watersheds are a key factor in raising concentrations of methane, a particularly potent heat-trapping pollutant. Based on the research, the world’s rivers and streams pump about 10 times more methane into our atmosphere than previously estimated. Continue reading “Study tracks methane emission from streams”→
Given the fact that microplastic debris is so widespread, it’s probably no surprise that the Rhine — Europe’s workhorse river — has been found to be among the most polluted by plastic.
The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area has the highest concentration, at about 2,333,665 particles per square kilometer, with a peak at Rees on the Nederhijn, where 3.9 million plastic items per square kilometer (or 21,839 particles per 1000 cubic meters) were found in a single water sample. In general, extreme peaks may be reached after heavy rain or accidents. Continue reading “Rhine River plastic pollution is the highest measured”→
Fish exposed to remnant traces of medicines, including pain relievers, muscle relaxants and antidepressants, grow more slowly and have a harder time escaping predators, say scientists who carefully studied the effects of pharmaceutical pollutants.
The study analyzed effects from nine individual pharmaceuticals, as well as varying mixtures of these chemicals, on both juvenile and adult fathead minnows. It was conducted by the Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory at St. Cloud State University and the U.S. Geological Survey, with the findings published in a special edition of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry. Continue reading “How does pharmaceutical pollution affect fish?”→
‘Unfortunately, there is no widespread evidence of improving conditions …’
Massive efforts to improve water quality haven’t been effective in many large U.S. rivers, where nitrate levels remain at high levels after surging in the second half of the 20th century.
Between 1945 and 1980, nitrate levels in large U.S. rivers increased up to fivefold as chemical fertilizer use increased dramatically in the Midwest. In some urbanized areas along the East and West coasts during the same period, river nitrate levels doubled.
Beaver ponds remove nitrogen pollution from streams
Long-known as beneficial ecosystem engineers, beavers not only build important wetland habitats for plants and animals, but also help reduce the amount of harmful nitrogen downstream of their ponds.
A team of scientists, led by Arthur Gold at the University of Rhode Island, took a close look at how beavers help reduce pollution. The research is important because nitrogen levels have been increasing in Northeast waters for years. The use of nitrogen fertilizers has risen and urbanization has brought in influences such as septic systems. This nitrogen is released into small streams and ponds and eventually travels to estuaries, where rivers meet the sea. Continue reading “Environment: Beavers are cooler than you think!”→
Hasty excavation without adequate technical info led to disastrous Gold King mine blowout in Colorado
By Bob Berwyn
Federal and state environmental engineers, along with their contractors, misjudged conditions inside the Gold King Mine before they unleashed a toxic flood of water into Cement Creek down the Animas and into the Colorado in early August.
The technical details about the spill were released this week by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation, which did an independent review of the accident. Most importantly, the workers underestimated the water level inside the mine. That error “resulted in development of a plan to open the mine in a manner that appeared to guard against blowout, but instead led directly to the failure,” the Bureau of Reclamation wrote in the report. Continue reading “Report says Animas River spill could have been avoided”→
The tiny plastic particles, used in common products like facial scrubs and toothpaste, have become a pollution scourge, with millions of tons bypassing water treatment and filtration and ending up in rivers, lakes and the ocean.