Agricultural pollution associated with antibiotic resistance in bacteria

From the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.

Antibiotics in water no textPharmaceuticals and other emerging contaminants in the environment are a growing cause for concern. One particular issue is the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  Agriculture is often noted as a source of excessive antibiotic use.  Over 70% of all antibiotics produced in the U.S. are used in animal agriculture. Overuse can encourage the selection of antibiotic-resistant genes (ARG).

To better understand the relationship between agricultural contamination and ARG abundance over a year-long period, ISTC researchers Wei Zheng and Laurel Dodgen contributed to a project led by Marquette University Professor Krassimira R. Hristova. The study was designed to characterize the emerging chemical contaminants and ARG profiles of 20 surface water locations in an area of Kewaunee County, WI which has an abundance of large-scale farms and where cattle outnumber humans 5 to 1. The team focused primarily on pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and hormones. ISTC’s role was to analyze the PPCPs and hormones in the collected river water and sediment samples to help establish the relationship with ARG.

The results of the study were published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology in 2018. They suggest that Kewaunee County river sediments accumulate contaminants from non-point sources at a higher rate when manure is applied to farmland than when it is not. If these contaminants contain antibiotics, they can either directly increase or co-select for the increase of ARGs in the environment. The study provides a better understanding of how confined animal feeding operations and manure- fertilized farmland impact environmental and human health.

Zheng continues to collaborate with Marquette researchers to determine the chlortetracycline residues in river sediments and water samples and investigate its environmental fate and potential effects. The goal is to evaluate the relationship between the development of chlortetracycline-derived ARG and contaminant residues in the environment.

Glass: Packaging that’s clearly worth a second look

Read the full story in FoodDive.

As consumers want packaging that is safe, sustainable, premium and transparent, manufacturers are increasingly going back to an old stalwart.

Coastal Recovery: Bringing a Damaged Wetland Back to Life

Read the full story at e360.

An ambitious wetlands restoration project is underway on Delaware Bay, where scientists are using innovative methods to revive a badly damaged salt marsh. The project could be a model for other places seeking to make coastal wetlands more resilient to rising seas and worsening storms.


Hacking conservation: how a tech start-up aims to save biodiversity

Read the full story in Nature.

Standard efforts have failed to slow the pace of extinctions, so Conservation X Labs is trying a fresh approach.

Using Nanoparticles to Remove Micro-Contaminants From Water

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

There may be a new way to efficiently remove micro-contaminants from water.

Researchers from ETH Zurich have created a new approach to removing chemical substances from water using multiferroic nanoparticles that induce the decomposition of chemical residues in contaminated water.

A variety of chemical substances including cosmetics, medications, contraceptive pills, plant fertilizers and detergents are used daily throughout the world. These everyday items are often difficult to fully remove from wastewater at water treatment plants and ultimately ending up in the environment.

It currently requires an extremely complex process based on ozone, activated carbon or light to remove these critical substances in wastewater treatment plants.

In the new approach, the nanoparticles are not directly involved in the chemical reaction, but rather act as a catalyst to accelerate the conversion of the substances into harmless compounds.

Treasure Coast scientists researching microplastics in oysters

Read the full story from WPTV.

As researchers test for microplastics in samples of water from the Indian River Lagoon for an ongoing study, they’re also planning to look at how those microplastics affect a small animal that has a big effect on our water quality.

River of No Return

Read the full story in the New Republic.

How austerity and climate change put northeastern Nebraska underwater.

Food Delivery Apps Are Drowning China in Plastic

Read the full story in the New York Times.

The noodles and barbecue arrive within 30 minutes. The containers they come in could be around for hundreds of years thereafter.

Food packaging is full of toxic chemicals – here’s how it could affect your health

Read the full story in The Guardian.

The internet cheered in December when Trader Joe’s announced it would take meaningful steps towards making its packaging more sustainable. The supermarket chain outlined a plan that included reducing and eliminating excess waste, using materials that could realistically be recycled and avoiding harmful substances. It’s the last part that medical and environmental activists are keeping an eye on.

We’re just beginning to understand some of the short- and long-term risks associated with the chemicals in packaging: obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease and other health issues. Some consumer advocates say phasing out some of the riskier substances that come into contact with our food is long overdue.

“Avoiding the use of these chemicals of concern in packaging is a great step forward,” said Leonardo Trasande, pediatrician and author of Sicker, Fatter, Poorer: The Urgent Threat of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals to Our Health and Our Future and What We Can Do About It. “The question is: what replaces these materials?”

Before Trader Joe’s fulfills its commitment, and other food companies follow suit, consumers can be vigilant. We asked Trasande to outline the types of food packaging consumers might want to avoid, along with possible alternatives.

Climate change or climate crisis? To really engage people, the media should talk about solutions

Read the full story at The Conversation.

Days after the British parliament declared a “climate emergency”, The Guardian announcedthat it would start using “stronger” language to discuss the environment. Its updated style guide states that “climate change” no longer accurately reflects the seriousness of the situation and journalists are advised to use “climate emergency”, “climate crisis” or “climate breakdown” instead.

Though it may seem inconsequential, language choices really do matter. How we label an issue determines how we frame it. Back in 2003, Frank Luntz told the US Bush administration that it’s time to start talking about “climate change” instead of “global warming”, because the former sounds less frightening. Explaining The Guardian’s decision, editor-in-chief Katharine Viner said that “climate change” sounds “gentle” when in fact scientists are describing “a catastrophe”.

While scientists’ responses to this move have been mixed, The Guardian’s changing language is prompting reviews in newsrooms around the world. In Norway, the Morgenbladet recently announced that it will follow The Guardian’s example.

But how novel is The Guardian’s use of “strong” language and what could be its impact?