Scientists gain better understanding of health risks associated with microsystins
Taking a swim in a cool, clear stream on a hot summer day always seems like a good idea, but if you’re in the southeastern U.S., you may want to stop and think. According to a new U.S. Geological Survey study, close to 40 percent of the streams in the region may be contaminated by algal toxins known as microsystins.
Public health practitioners and medical researchers have observed a range of symptoms in humans after exposure to microcystins. Symptoms can include nausea, dermatitis and, in severe cases, liver failure. Toxicity issues have been reported for humans, companion animals, livestock and wildlife. Continue reading “Algal toxins found in many streams in the Southeast”→
After years of studies showing how plastic microbeads are polluting streams, lakes and oceans, the U.S. is set to adopt a new law that will phase out the manufacture of plastic microbeads by July 1, 2017 and the sale of beauty products containing plastic microbeads by July 1, 2018.
Similar to California’s historic microbead ban signed into law earlier this year, the Microbead Free Waters Act (H.R. 1321) bans all plastic microbeads, including those made from so-called “biodegradable plastics,” the majority of which do not biodegrade in marine environments.
The law is a big win for the environment, where the microbeads have been found in birds, crabs and fish, making their way through the food chain.
A proposed rule published in August would create new standards for healthcare facilities (including pharmacies) and reverse distributors. According to the agency, the rule would prevent the flushing of more than 6,400 tons of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals annually by banning healthcare facilities from flushing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals down the sink and toilet.
More Summit Voice stories on pharmaceutical pollution:
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.