New solar farms proposed for Sangamon County

Read the full story from the Illinois Times.

Some residents opposed, but new state legislation limits local oversight of projects.

State climatologist says tornado alley may be shifting to include Illinois

Read the full story at The Center Square.

An Illinois climatologist says the state has seen an odd start to this year’s severe weather. 

Illinois leads the nation in the number of tornadoes so far this year with 86. There were 22 confirmed tornadoes alone across the state during a March 31 outbreak that killed several people. 

State climatologist Trent Ford said 2023 this far has been highly unusual.

“Our peak is between April and June climatologically, so to get that many tornadoes, basically a year’s worth of tornadoes just in January, February and March is really incredible,” Ford said. 

‘Too greedy’: mass walkout at global science journal over ‘unethical’ fees

Read the full story in The Guardian.

More than 40 leading scientists have resigned en masse from the editorial board of a top science journal in protest at what they describe as the “greed” of publishing giant Elsevier.

The entire academic board of the journal Neuroimage, including professors from Oxford University, King’s College London and Cardiff University resigned after Elsevier refused to reduce publication charges.

Academics around the world have applauded what many hope is the start of a rebellion against the huge profit margins in academic publishing, which outstrip those made by Apple, Google and Amazon.

Neuroimage, the leading publication globally for brain-imaging research, is one of many journals that are now “open access” rather than sitting behind a subscription paywall. But its charges to authors reflect its prestige, and academics now pay over £2,700 for a research paper to be published. The former editors say this is “unethical” and bears no relation to the costs involved.

Companies flock to Biden’s climate tax breaks, driving up cost

Read the full story in the New York Times.

A law to boost clean energy appears to be more potent than predicted, with big implications for both budget talks and efforts to fight climate change.

Tamar Adler shows you how to make the most of your leftovers in her new cookbook

Read the full story from NPR.

If the thought of leftovers grosses you out, Tamar Adler is here to change your mind. Her new cookbook, The Everlasting Meal Cookbook: Leftovers A-Z, is a seemingly endless encyclopedia of recipes that rely on what’s left after we finish the initial meal.

Adler gives new life to the foods that many of us leave in the fridge to waste away until they wilt to the point of no return and go into the trash. The way she sees it, by making something new, you’re honoring and extending the labor you put in the first time around.

How to diversify the engineering workforce in the energy industry

Listen to the full podcast episode of Renewable Energy SmartPod.

Workforce development is a crucial step along the path to a clean energy future. Proponents of the energy transition can’t stop talking about all the jobs, jobs, jobs that the transition will bring, but what exactly will that workforce look like?  Jasmine Robinson, a project manager at IHI Terrasun Solutions, joins the show to talk about what the energy sector can do to recruit, develop and retain more women. Jasmine started developing her engineering skills at an early age and she’s determined to see more women follow in her footsteps. That’s why she’s keen to see things like STEM classes, mentoring programs, and other initiatives used to develop a pipeline of talented women to seize all those jobs, jobs, jobs. 

U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit: Great Lakes

Read the full regional summary.

Increases in extreme precipitation events, changes in growing seasons, and warming temperatures impact the people, ecosystems, and infrastructure of the Great Lakes region—and the lakes themselves. Given its energy-intensive economy, the region has the potential to reduce emissions that cause climate change and adapt to the impacts already being experienced.

Body lotions, mothballs, cleaning fluids and other widely used products contain known toxic chemicals, study finds

Common household products such as cleaning agents can contain a wide range of harmful chemicals. gawriloff/istock via Getty Images

by Robin Dodson, Boston University; Megan R. Schwarzman, University of California, Berkeley, and Ruthann Rudel, Northeastern University

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

Consumer products released more than 5,000 tons of chemicals in 2020 inside California homes and workplaces that are known to cause cancer, adversely affect sexual function and fertility in adults or harm developing fetuses, according to our newly published study.

We found that many household products like shampoos, body lotions, cleaners and mothballs release toxic volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, into indoor air. In addition, we identified toxic VOCs that are prevalent in products heavily used by workers on the job, such as cleaning fluids, adhesives, paint removers and nail polish. However, gaps in laws that govern ingredient disclosure mean that neither consumers nor workers generally know what is in the products they use.

For this study we analyzed data from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which tracks VOCs released from consumer products in an effort to reduce smog. The agency periodically surveys companies that sell products in California, collecting information on concentrations of VOCs used in everything from hair spray to windshield wiper fluid.

We cross-referenced the most recent data with a list of chemicals identified as carcinogens or reproductive/developmental toxicants under California’s right-to-know law, Proposition 65. This measure, enacted in 1986, requires businesses to notify Californians about significant exposure to chemicals that are known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harms.

We found 33 toxic VOCs present in consumer products. Over 100 consumer products covered by the CARB contain VOCs listed under Prop 65.

Of these, we identified 30 product types and 11 chemicals that we see as high priorities for either reformulation with safer alternatives or regulatory action because of the chemicals’ high toxicity and widespread use.

Why it matters

Our study identifies consumer products containing carcinogens and reproductive and developmental toxicants that are widely used at home and in the workplace. Consumers have limited information about these products’ ingredients.

We also found that people are likely co-exposed to many hazardous chemicals together as mixtures through use of many different products, which often contain many chemicals of health concern. For example, janitors might use a combination of general cleaners, degreasers, detergents and other maintenance products. This could expose them to more than 20 different Prop 65-listed VOCs.

Similarly, people experience aggregate exposures to the same chemical from multiple sources. Methanol, which is listed under Prop 65 for developmental toxicity, was found in 58 product categories. Diethanolamine, a chemical frequently used in products like shampoos that are creamy or foamy, appeared in 40 different product categories. Canada and the European Union prohibit its use in cosmetics because it can react with other ingredients to form chemicals that may cause cancer.

Some chemicals, such as N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone and ethylene gylcol, are listed under Prop 65 because they are reproductive or developmental toxicants. Yet they appeared widely in goods such as personal care products, cleansers and art supplies that are routinely used by children or people who are pregnant.

Our findings could help state and federal agencies strengthen chemical regulations. We identified five chemicals – cumene, 1,3-dichloropropene, diethanolamine, ethylene oxide and styrene – as high-priority targets for risk evaluation and management under the Toxic Substances Control Act by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A hotel housekeeper stands next to her cart, piled with towels and bottled cleaning supplies.
Many jobs, including custodian and hotel housekeeper, involve close-range exposure to multiple chemicals daily. Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

What still isn’t known

Our analysis of the CARB data on volatile toxicants does not paint a complete picture. Many toxic chemicals, such as lead, PFAS and bisphenol A (BPA), don’t have to be reported to the Air Resources Board because they are not volatile, meaning that they don’t readily turn from liquid to gas at room temperature.

In addition, we were not able to identify specific products of concern because the agency aggregates data over whole categories of products.

What other research is being done

Studies have shown that women generally use more cosmetic, personal care and cleaning products than men, so they are likely to be more highly exposed to harmful chemicals in these categories. Further, women working in settings like nail salons may be exposed from products used both personally and professionally.

Research by members of our team has also shown that product use varies by race and ethnicity, partly due to racialized beauty standards. Policy interventions could be tailored to prioritize these potentially more-highly exposed groups.

Ultimately, a right-to-know law like Prop 65 can only go so far in addressing toxics in products. We’ve found in other research that some manufacturers do choose to reformulate their products to avoid Prop 65 chemicals, rather than having to warn customers about toxic ingredients.

But Prop 65 does not ban or restrict any chemicals, and there is no requirement for manufacturers to choose safer substitutes. We believe our new analysis points to the need for national action that ensures consumers and workers alike have safer products.

Dr. Kristin Knox at the Silent Spring Institute contributed to this article.

Robin Dodson, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Health, Boston University; Megan R. Schwarzman, Associate Project Scientist and Continuing Lecturer in Environmental Health Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, and Ruthann Rudel, Visiting Scholar, Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute, Northeastern University, Northeastern University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Study: Greenhouse gas ‘tipping points’ preceded major earlier warming events

Read the full story at The Hill.

Multiple periods of extreme warming in the earth’s past followed “tipping points” involving the release of greenhouse gases, according to research published in the journal Science Advances.

PepsiCo prioritizes faster compostable packaging trials at new R&D center

Read the full story at Food Dive.

PepsiCo subsidiaries Frito-Lay and Quaker announced the opening of a compostable packaging-focused learning center last week at their research and development headquarters in Plano, Texas.

The Greenhouse Learning Center will be used for testing and demonstrating the biodegradation properties of compostable packaging in different environments and to rapidly increase the speed of innovation, said Denise Lefebvre, senior vice president of R&D for PepsiCo, in an email.

The work aims to move the brands closer to PepsiCo’s sustainability goal to design 100% of its packaging to be recyclable, reusable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.