Climate change drove western heat wave’s extreme records, analysis finds

Read the full story from the New York Times.

A rapid analysis of last week’s record-breaking heat found that it would have been virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change.

EPA launches stewardship program to reduce PFAS in the marketplace

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing a stewardship program to encourage the voluntary withdrawal of previously granted low volume exemptions (LVEs) for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Historically, some new PFAS have been allowed to enter the market through LVEs. The goal of the PFAS LVE Stewardship Program is to stop the ongoing manufacture of PFAS under previously approved LVEs which have not gone through the full pre-manufacture review process under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA will also hold a webinar on July 29, 2021 to provide an overview of the program.

There are approximately 600 PFAS with currently granted LVEs. Through this program, EPA intends to work with trade associations, non-governmental organizations, and companies to encourage voluntary withdrawal of the LVEs. This new program is based on a 2016 outreach effort which resulted in companies withdrawing more than half of the 82 long-chain PFAS LVEs that were targeted for voluntary withdrawal at the time.

To participate in the program, companies with previously granted PFAS LVEs may choose to voluntarily withdraw their LVEs and certify that they will no longer manufacture or import that PFAS. Alternatively, companies may choose to voluntarily withdraw their LVE following submission and review of a pre-manufacture notice, which will provide for a robust safety review and the imposition of appropriate and enforceable protections for human health and the environment. EPA will provide recognition of program participants on its website.

The establishment of the PFAS LVE Stewardship Program follows an announcement in April that new LVE submissions for PFAS would likely be denied since a sufficiently robust safety review is unlikely to be possible in the 30 days the law allows given the potential hazards associated with various subclasses of PFAS and the need to consider their potential persistence in the environment.

Illinois researchers using image recognition to manage invasive asian carp

Read the full story at Illinois Newsroom.

Fish and wildlife researchers are testing new image recognition technology on the Illinois River to manage invasive carp species.

Cities are making COVID-era street changes permanent. Some are facing pushback.

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Paris barred most cars from the majestic road that goes past the Louvre Museum, then months later announced it would keep it that way. New York followed suit, making permanent a program that clears space on public roads for walking, biking and, in the case of 34th Avenue in Queens, Mexican folk dance classes.

In San Francisco, officials are weighing whether to keep part of John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park closed to cars, prompting a tussle among drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and a fine arts museum that lost easy public access to its facilities.

Leaders in other cities are pushing to do the same, seeing an opportunity to cement progress in making streets safer, more enjoyable and less polluting. The moves have also roiled long-running debates about the role of the automobile and the purpose of public streets.

In Washington, the D.C. Council in June appealed to the National Park Service to keep cars off a scenic stretch of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park, a move also supported by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D). But one initial supporter of the idea, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), tapped the brakes after opposition emerged, showing the complexities of limiting car travel, even in a city where local and federal officials have sought to emphasize other modes of transportation.

Massive quantity of methane emissions documented across Europe at oil & gas facilities

Read the full story at Clean Air Task Force.

Using a state-of-the-art infrared camera, Clean Air Task Force has documented methane emissions leaking or venting from oil & gas facilities all over Europe. So far, the organization has visited over 150 sites in seven European countries and found harmful, invisible methane pollution at the vast majority of sites.

Today, Clean Air Task Force (CATF) releases footage from Germany, Italy and Hungary as the first wave of evidence for its new campaign, CutMethaneEU. The videos from these countries are available in an online library alongside information about methane emissions in Europe, as well as a dedicated petition that allows citizens to demand rapid action on methane pollution.

Deep Dive into Plastic Monomers, Additives, and Processing Aids

Helene Wiesinger, Zhanyun Wang, and Stefanie Hellweg (2021). “Deep Dive into Plastic Monomers, Additives, and Processing Aids.” Environmental Science & Technology 55(13), 9339-9351. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.1c00976

Abstract: A variety of chemical substances used in plastic production may be released throughout the entire life cycle of the plastic, posing risks to human health, the environment, and recycling systems. Only a limited number of these substances have been widely studied. We systematically investigate plastic monomers, additives, and processing aids on the global market based on a review of 63 industrial, scientific, and regulatory data sources. In total, we identify more than 10’000 relevant substances and categorize them based on substance types, use patterns, and hazard classifications wherever possible. Over 2’400 substances are identified as substances of potential concern as they meet one or more of the persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity criteria in the European Union. Many of these substances are hardly studied according to SciFinder (266 substances), are not adequately regulated in many parts of the world (1’327 substances), or are even approved for use in food-contact plastics in some jurisdictions (901 substances). Substantial information gaps exist in the public domain, particularly on substance properties and use patterns. To transition to a sustainable circular plastic economy that avoids the use of hazardous chemicals, concerted efforts by all stakeholders are needed, starting by increasing information accessibility.

Dairy processors’ sustainability initiatives are more important than ever

Read the full story at Dairy Foods.

One might think that consumers would have put sustainability on the back burner amid the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that appears to be far from the case. 

In a 2020 survey it conducted with more than 3,000 people across eight countries, Boston Consulting Group found that in the wake of the pandemic, people actually were more concerned about addressing environmental challenges, as well as more committed to altering their own behavior to promote sustainability.

For dairy processors that want to win over today’s consumers, therefore, sustainability initiatives are more important than ever.

Growing food from air ‘more efficient’ than growing crops, study finds

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, the University of Naples Federico II, the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, compared the efficiency of growing soybeans with a food-from-air technique.

Making citizen science inclusive will require more than rebranding

Read the full story from North Carolina State University.

Scientists need to focus on tangible efforts to boost equity, diversity and inclusion in citizen science, researchers from North Carolina State University argued in a new perspective.

Published in the journal Science, the perspective is a response to a debate about rebranding “citizen science,” the movement to use crowdsourced data collection, analysis or design in research. Researchers said that while the motivation for rebranding is in response to a real concern, there will be a cost to it, and efforts to make projects more inclusive should go deeper than that. Their recommendations speak to a broader discussion about how to ensure science is responsive to the needs of a diverse audience.

From the ashes: historical botanic photos destroyed in Cape Town fire resurrected

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Table Mountain blaze destroyed university’s plant conservation archives, but digitised ‘then-and-now’ images continue to shed light on changes in South Africa’s landscape