Friday, May 17, 2019

Climate Change and the impact on Human Health

Climate change will have multiple effects on human health, especially the vector-borne and waterborne infectious diseases.

Climate change is occurring as a result of an imbalance between incoming and outgoing radiation in the atmosphere. The solar radiations enter the atmosphere which is then absorbed by the greenhouse gases which is then cannot be effectively removed from the atmosphere because of deforestation. This process generates heat. Due to which the hydrological cycle will be altered, as a result, some geographic area will have more rainfall, and some drought, and severe weather events including heat waves and storms. Climate change is expected to have a considerable impact on the infectious diseases that are transmitted by insect vectors and through contaminated water.

Insect vectors tend to be more active at higher temperatures. For example, tropical mosquitoes such as Anopheles species, which transmit malaria, require temperatures above 16°C to complete their life cycles.

Like vector-borne diseases, waterborne infectious diseases are also strongly affected by climate. During times of drought, water scarcity results in poor sanitation, and much of the population can be exposed to potentially contaminated water.

It is predicted that by 2030 there will be 10% more diarrheal disease than there would have been with no climate change and that it will primarily affect the health of young children.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Drinking Water Crisis Update: Supplies in 43 States Found Contaminated with Harmful PFAS Chemicals

Millions of people across the U.S. have been exposed to toxic PFAS chemicals in their drinking water, according to a new report from Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group.

The report found that at least 610 sites in 43 states were contaminated with the fluorinated compounds known as PFAS chemicals as of March 2019, including the drinking water systems for around 19 million people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to PFAS chemicals can lead to increased risk of cancer as well as immune, behavioral and reproductive health issues.

Based on the new data, Michigan tops the list of states with the most contaminated sites on the map with 192, followed by California with 47 and New Jersey with 43. PFAS contamination was found at 117 military bases across the country, due to use in aviation-grade firefighting foam. The U.S Department of Defense officials estimate that it will cost $2 billion to clean up the contamination at all bases in the U.S., Military Times reported.

"This should be frightening to all Americans in many ways," David Andrews, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, told CBS News. "These chemicals ... don't break down in our body and they don't break down in our environment and they actually stick to our blood. So, levels tend to increase over time."

PFAS chemicals have been manufactured since the 1940s and are used in a wide range of consumer products, including cosmetics, paint, adhesives, food packaging, furniture and cleaning products, as well as water, oil and grease repellants, HuffPost reported. Because they take thousands of years to break down, PFAS chemicals easily find their way into drinking water, lakes and rivers, and wildlife. The CDC says that basically, everyone in the U.S. has some level of PFAS chemicals in their blood, usually due to consuming contaminated water or food.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Radical desalination approach may disrupt the water industry

Off-grid Solar Desalination

Hypersaline brines - water that contains high concentrations of dissolved salts and whose saline levels are higher than ocean water -- are a growing environmental concern around the world. Very challenging and costly to treat, they result from water produced during oil and gas production, inland desalination concentrate, landfill leachate (a major problem for municipal solid waste landfills), flue gas desulfurization wastewater from fossil-fuel power plants, and effluent from industrial processes.
If hypersaline brines are improperly managed, they can pollute both surface and groundwater resources. But if there were a simple, inexpensive way to desalinate the brines, vast quantities of water would be available for all kinds of uses, from agriculture to industrial applications, and possibly even for human consumption.

A Columbia Engineering team led by Ngai Yin Yip, assistant professor of earth and environmental engineering, reports that they have developed a radically different desalination approach -- "temperature swing solvent extraction (TSSE)" -- for hypersaline brines. The study, published online in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, demonstrates that TSSE can desalinate very high-salinity brines, up to seven times the concentration of seawater. This is a good deal more than reverse osmosis, the gold-standard for seawater desalination, and can hold handle approximately twice seawater salt concentrations.

Larch trees in the permafrost forests of northeastern China -- the northernmost tree species on Earth -- are growing faster as a result of climate change, according to new research.

A new study of growth rings from Dahurian larch in China's northern forests finds the hardy trees grew more from 2005 to 2014 than in the preceding 40 years. The findings also show the oldest trees have had the biggest growth spurts: Trees older than 400 years grew more rapidly in those 10 years than in the past 300 years, according to the new study.
The study's authors suspect warmer soil temperatures are fueling the growth spurts by lowering the depth of the permafrost layer, allowing the trees' roots to expand and suck up more nutrients.

Larch Trees

The increased growth is good for the trees in the short-term but may be disastrous for the forests in the long-term, according to the authors. As the climate continues to warm, the permafrost underneath the trees may eventually degrade and no longer be able to support the slow-growing trees.
No other tree species can survive the permafrost plains this far north, so if the larch forests of northern Asia disappear, the entire ecosystem would change, according to the study's authors.

"The disappearance of larch would be a disaster to the forest ecosystem in this region," said Xianliang Zhang, an ecologist at Shenyang Agricultural University in Shenhang, China, and lead author of the new study in AGU's Journal of Geophysical.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

With plankton threatened the food chain is in danger!


Several major problems are causing decreasing numbers of plankton:

•Ocean acidification as a result of climate change and pollution.

•90% of whales are disappearing, as the giant sea creatures travel the ocean, they boost plankton numbers.

•Fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and other chemicals directly affect phytoplankton and zooplankton.

Life on Earth depends on the food chain working correctly. If it starts to malfunction, then nothing can work properly.

All it takes is for one species to disappear to upset the balance of an ecosystem for good. However, when we know that 55% of the wildlife has disappeared in only 40 years, we can start asking ourselves questions about our continued survival soon.

Plankton is the food base for many marine species while these marine species are a food base for land-based species like humans. As a result, it could be argued that our survival is linked to the survival of plankton.
Plankton and the Amazon rain-forest ate the two lungs for the planet and our oxygen engines.

However, every year, our oceans lose their capacity to absorb 190 million tons of carbon which is causing the progressive disappearance of plankton.

Punjab minister calls for tackling environmental pollution

LAHORE: Punjab Minister for Environmental Protection Muhammad Rizwan on Monday said pollution has become a great challenge.

While chairing a meeting of all district officers of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discuss the strategy for launching an effective campaign against environmental pollution at the EPA headquarters, he said the Punjab government was taking the pollution issue very seriously.

Speaking on the occasion, Environmental Protection Department Secretary Asad Rehman Gillani said all officers must start their activities on a fast-track without taking any pressure.
He asked the officers to take all possible measures to protect the environment and deliver in true sense in this regard. “Targets will be set and progress of each officer will be judged against the set targets,” he added.

Director Nasimur Rehman briefed the meeting that in compliance with the minister’s directions, action against fake lube oil is continued. Six units were inspected at Saggian Road and one unit involved in the manufacturing of substandard plastic cans and bottles had been sealed.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Cutting dirty fuel use may save 2.7 lakh lives annually in India: Study

Dirty Fuel Filter

LOS ANGELES: India could make a major dent in air pollution and save about 270,000 lives a year by curbing emissions from dirty household fuels such as wood, dung, coal, and kerosene, a study co-led by researchers from IIT Delhi has found. 

Eliminating emissions from these sources -- without any changes to industrial or vehicle emissions -- would bring the average outdoor air pollution levels below the country's air quality standard, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Mitigating the use of household fuels could also reduce air pollution-related deaths in the country by about 13 percent, which is equivalent to saving about 270,000 lives a year, said researchers, including Sagnik Dey of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi. 

"Household fuels are the single biggest source of outdoor air pollution in India," said Kirk R Smith, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the US. 

We looked at what would happen if they only cleaned up households, and we came to this counterintuitive result that the whole country would reach national air pollution standards if they did that," Smith said in a statement.