Day: April 2, 2021

More than 50 new environmental chemicals detected in people

Read the full story at Live Science.

Researchers have detected more than 50 new environmental chemicals lurking in people’s bodies, the vast majority of which are little known or unknown compounds.

These chemicals — which have never been observed in people before — were discovered in a study of pregnant women and their newborns.

The findings are concerning given that very little is known about these chemicals and their potential health effects, researchers from the new study say. What’s more, pregnant women and their newborns are a particularly vulnerable population.

“We are very concerned about these exposures that occur during pregnancy because it’s such a vulnerable period of development,” said study senior author Tracey Woodruff, director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE) and the Environmental Research and Translation for Health (EaRTH) Center, both at University of California San Francisco. “It can influence the mom’s health later. And it’s a vulnerable period of development for the fetus, so it can have childhood and lifelong consequences.”  

Of these newly detected chemicals, two were perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. These chemicals, used in consumer products such as nonstick cookware and pizza boxes, stay in the human body for a long time and can accumulate, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ten of the newly detected substances were plasticizers, or chemicals used in the production of plastics. For example, one of the detected plasticizers, a group of chemicals called phthalates, are often found in fast-food packaging and have been associated with adverse health effects. Two of the newly detected chemicals are used in cosmetics; one in pesticides. 

But most — 37 — of these newly detected chemicals are ones that researchers have little to no information on, the authors wrote in the study, published Tuesday (March 16) in the journal Environmental Science & Technology

How Smithfield Foods Will Reach 90% Recyclable Packaging by 2030

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

Smithfield Foods recently announced new commitments it will implement across its portfolio by 2030: to achieve consumer packaging that is 90% recyclable, reusable, or industrially compostable and to halve use of virgin petroleum-based plastic.

The case for country of origin labelling: Food quality, transparency, and value creation

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

FoodNavigator hears from agri-food players – sitting at both extremes of farm-to-fork – and an MEP, who make the case for enforcing indication laws across the bloc.

The Opportunity of Valorizing Agricultural Waste, Through Its Conversion into Biostimulants, Biofertilizers, and Biopolymers

Puglia D, Pezzolla D, Gigliotti G, Torre L, Bartucca ML, Del Buono D. (2021). “The Opportunity of Valorizing Agricultural Waste, Through Its Conversion into Biostimulants, Biofertilizers, and Biopolymers.” Sustainability 13(5):2710. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052710

Abstract: The problems arising from the limited availability of natural resources and the impact of certain anthropogenic activities on the environment must be addressed as soon as possible. To meet this challenge, it is necessary, among other things, to reconsider and redesign agricultural systems to find more sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions, paying specific attention to waste from agriculture. Indeed, the transition to a more sustainable and circular economy should also involve the effective valorization of agricultural waste, which should be seen as an excellent opportunity to obtain valuable materials. For the reasons mentioned above, this review reports and discusses updated studies dealing with the valorization of agricultural waste, through its conversion into materials to be applied to crops and soil. In particular, this review highlights the opportunity to obtain plant biostimulants, biofertilizers, and biopolymers from agricultural waste. This approach can decrease the impact of waste on the environment, allow the replacement and reduction in the use of synthetic compounds in agriculture, and facilitate the transition to a sustainable circular economy.

Energy Dept. pushes to reverse Trump-era rule on efficiency standards

Read the full story at The Hill.

The Biden administration is set to push for a reversal of Trump-era changes that made it harder to impose energy efficiency standards for commercial products and industrial equipment.

The Energy Department sent out a notification late Wednesday of a proposed update to a regulation, known as a “process rule,” that deals with energy-saving standards.

The Trump administration had implemented an energy savings threshold in order to set energy efficiency standards. The proposal posted to the Energy Department’s website would remove that threshold.

It also aims to restore the department’s ability to diverge from the process rule, which the Trump administration made binding.

FEMA unveils new flood insurance calculation it says will be more equitable

Read the full story at The Hill.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Thursday unveiled changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that it says will be aimed at being more equitable. 

A fact sheet from the agency said that it will be able to do this by calculating premiums based on home value and flood risk, with more expensive homes potentially costing more to insure.

The agency said that currently people with lower-valued homes are “paying more than their share of the risk” while those with higher-value homes are paying “less than their share.”

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