Day: April 21, 2020

UIC chemical engineers get ‘muddy’ to develop renewable fuel cell

Read the full story at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Engineers digging for efficient ways to harness sustainable power found a surprising fuel source — mud and a common bacterium often found in it.

Taking textiles from trash to treasure

Read the full story from the University of Georgia.

Researchers are turning waste denim into acoustic insulation materials.

Expanding Canada’s Biggest Port Will Be a Blow to Wildlife

Read the full story at Hakai Magazine.

A new environmental assessment raises plenty of concerns about the proposed expansion of Vancouver’s Roberts Bank shipping terminal.

New Website Will Help Steer the U.S. Away From Fossil Fuels

Read the full story from the Columbia University Earth Institute.

A new website, Model Laws for Deep Decarbonization in the United States, was launched on Tuesday to help accelerate a sustainable U.S. transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. It will provide policy makers at the federal, state and local levels with the legal tools needed to transition away from fossil fuels.

Climate and weather

Watch the video from National Geographic.

This video discusses the differences between climate and weather by defining and presenting examples of each. When presenting examples of weather, the video focuses on severe events and how meteorologists predict and study the weather using measurement, satellites, and radar. The climate focus is primarily on an overview of climate zones.

Summary from

A Framework for Regulation of New and Existing PFAS by EPA

Dean, W.S., et al. (2020). “Policy Analysis: A Framework for Regulation of New and Existing PFAS by EPA.” Journal of Science Policy & Governance 16(21).

Executive summary: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of chemicals known to be both toxic and highly persistent in both the environment and in humans. Despite decades of widespread recognition among scientists that PFAS are an emerging public health threat, few actions have been taken by Congress or the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) until recently. PFAS are prevalent in a variety of industrial processes and consumer products, and the phaseout of “legacy” PFAS—mainly perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)—has resulted in a proliferation of new PFAS whose identities, properties, toxicities, amounts, locations, and methods of disposal are unknown to the public and health researchers. We recommend that the unique threat posed by PFAS requires EPA to adopt a stringent regulatory framework. EPA should determine a formal definition for PFAS which would allow them to be regulated as a class instead of as individual compounds. PFAS in all new and existing applications should be further classified according to structure and use. PFAS should be evaluated for essentiality in each application and banned in nonessential cases. More stringent requirements for toxicity and degradability testing and reporting should be required, giving EPA additional risk information and incentivizing PFAS phaseout. In applications where PFAS are essential and non-substitutable, existing legislation governing hazardous materials should be applied to reduce the risk to human health and environmental quality.

IJC Project Aims to Create Fish Consumption Resource for Indigenous Anglers

Read the full story in Great Lakes Connection.

Fish are a major resource for residents around the Great Lakes, particularly First Nations, Tribal, and Métis communities. 

Many Great Lakes residents support their diets with local fish, gaining an important source of essential nutrients such as polyunsaturated fatty acids and protein.

But fish also accumulate toxic chemicals from the environment. Potential health impacts are not restricted to anglers, as many species of Great Lakes fish such as trout, walleye and perch are available for sale in commercial markets.

In addition to facing potentially higher health impacts due to higher fish consumption rates, First Nations, Tribal and Métis communities also may experience distinct cultural, economic, and spiritual impacts, particularly in Lake Superior.

Balancing the risks and benefits of Great Lakes fish consumption is an ongoing challenge for fish consumers. Fish consumption advisories on certain species of fish in some water bodies are required as a result of chemical contamination from environmental pollution.

Now more than ever it seems we can’t live without plastic. Can we learn to live with it?

Read the full story at Ensia.

Companies and governments are working to minimize environmental harm of plastic packaging and products, but they face a nuanced reality.

Decades After They Seemed to Disappear, Lake Trout Found Spawning Again in Lake Superior Tributary

Read the full story in Great Lakes Connection.

Lake trout are still spawning in at least one tributary to Lake Superior decades after the fishery collapsed.

The trout are spawning in the Nimoosh River (or Dog River when translated from Ojibwe), according to a study by researchers with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. This remote river flows into the north end of Lake Superior through Nimoosh Provincial Park. Officials can use the findings to help focus river restoration and protection efforts.

Opinion: Put clean energy at the heart of stimulus plans to the counter coronavirus crisis

Read the full post at Ensia.

Governments are drawing up stimulus plans in an effort to counter the economic damage from the coronavirus. These stimulus packages offer an excellent opportunity to ensure that the essential task of building a secure and sustainable energy future doesn’t get lost amid the flurry of immediate priorities.

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