Does Endorsing Scientific Inquiry Boost Support for Environmental Regulations?

Read the full story from Pacific Standard.

Climate change denial has a real knack for getting under believers’ skin. Often, that’s because denial just seems, well, ignorant.

But ignorance of scientific facts might not be the main problem: The real culprit behind skeptics’ beliefs may be a denial of the value of the scientific process itself, according to a new study.

Scientists: World Likely Won’t Avoid Dangerous Warming Mark

Read the full story at Research & Development.

A team of top scientists is telling world leaders to stop congratulating themselves on the Paris agreement to fight climate change because if more isn’t done, global temperatures will likely hit dangerous warming levels in about 35 years.

Six scientists who were leaders in past international climate conferences joined with the Universal Ecological Fund in Argentina to release a brief report Thursday, saying that if even more cuts in heat-trapping gases aren’t agreed upon soon, the world will warm by another 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) by around 2050.

Tools for alternatives assessment

This post originally appeared on the GLRPPR Blog.

One way that manufacturers can reduce their environmental impact is by replacing a toxic or hazardous process chemical with a less hazardous or non-hazardous one. The following resources are useful when trying to identify less toxic alternatives.

SUBSPORT: Substitution Support Portal

SUBSPORT is a free-of-charge, multilingual platform for information exchange on alternative substances and technologies, as well as tools and guidance for substance evaluation and substitution management. It includes:

Program for Assisting the Replacement of Industrial Solvents (PARIS III)

PARIS III, developed by U.S. EPA, is a desktop/laptop application that allows users to find mixtures of solvents with specific physical and chemical properties that also have relatively low environmental impacts. The software helps users find replacements for solvent mixtures that are currently being used in industrial processes but have dangerous environmental side effects. The software can also be used to find solvents with lower environmental impact when designing new industrial processes, as well as more benign solvents that can be added to harmful solvents favored by industry to help reduce the harmful environmental impact of their processes.

CleanerSolutions Database

The CleanerSolutions Database, developed by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute, helps users select an alternative cleaner that meets their needs. The information is based on lab testing done by TURI. Use the tool to find a cleaner for a particular contaminant; replace a solvent; identify products based on safety and environmental criteria; and search by vendor information.

P2OASys Tool to Compare Materials

Sometimes changing chemicals or processes can have unintended environmental and health impacts. TURI’s P2OASys is an Excel based tool that allows companies to assess the potential environmental, worker, and public health impacts of alternative technologies aimed at reducing toxics use. The goal is more comprehensive and systematic thinking about the potential hazards posed by current and alternative processes identified during the TUR planning process. The tool can help companies:

  •  Systematically examine the potential environmental and worker impacts of options, examining the total impacts of process changes, rather than simply those of chemical changes
  •  Compare options with current processes based on quantitative and qualitative factors.

Chemical Hazard Assessment Database

The Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2) Chemical Hazard Assessment Database enables users to search for GreenScreen® and Quick Chemical Assessment Tool (QCAT) assessments. The purpose of this tool is to promote awareness of assessments conducted on chemicals of high concern, facilitate transparency and discussion, and reduce duplication of effort. IC2 also has alternatives assessment resources, including a guide and links to other assessment materials.

Safer Chemical Ingredients List

The Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL)is a list of chemical ingredients, arranged by functional-use class, that U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice Program has evaluated and determined to be safer than traditional chemical ingredients. This list is designed to help manufacturers find safer chemical alternatives that meet the criteria of the Safer Choice Program. Safer Choice also has other resources available for manufacturers.

Environmental, Health and Safety Data Resources

Although chemical manufacturers provide material safety data sheets with their chemicals, sometimes this information isn’t enough. TURI’s librarian created this guide to assist in researching environmental, health and safety information for chemicals.

Former Pesticide Ingredient Found in Dolphins, Birds and Fish

Read the full story from the American Chemical Society.

A family of common industrial compounds called perfluoroalkyl substances, which are best known for making carpets stain resistant and cookware non-stick, has been under scrutiny for potentially causing health problems. Focusing on one of the family’s sub-groups, scientists report for the first time that some dolphins, fish and birds have perfluoroalkyl phosphinic acids (PFPIAs) in their blood. The work appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The Deepwater Horizon spill may have caused ‘irreversible’ damage to Gulf Coast marshes

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has been called one of the worst environmental disasters in American history — and more than six years later, scientists are still investigating how much damage it actually caused. Now, a new study suggests the spill may have permanently marred one of the Gulf shore’s most important ecosystems.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports, finds the oil spill caused widespread erosion in the salt marshes along the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. And the researchers say there’s a chance these marshes might never completely grow back.

Toward ‘Greener,’ Inexpensive Solar Cells

Read the full story from the American Chemical Society.

Solar panels are proliferating across the globe to help reduce the world’s dependency on fossil fuels. But conventional panels are not without environmental costs, too. Now scientists are reporting in the Journal of the American Chemical Society a new advance toward more practical, “greener” solar cells made with inexpensive halide perovskite materials. They have developed low-bandgap perovskite solar cells with a reduced lead content and a power conversion efficiency of 15 percent.

Eastern forests use up nitrogen in soil during earlier, greener springs

Read the full story in ScienceDaily.

A warming climate is causing earlier springs and later autumns in eastern forests of the United States, lengthening the growing season for trees and potentially changing how forests function. Scientists have found that in years with early springs, trees use more nitrogen to grow than is naturally provided in soil, which could impact tree growth rates and the amount of carbon dioxide forests take out of the atmosphere.

Andrew J. Elmore, David M. Nelson, Joseph M. Craine. Earlier springs are causing reduced nitrogen availability in North American eastern deciduous forests. Nature Plants, 2016; 2: 16133 DOI: 10.1038/nplants.2016.133