Human Waste Is Contaminating Australian Wildlife with More Than 60 Pharmaceuticals

Human Waste Is Contaminating Australian Wildlife with More Than 60 Pharmaceuticals

SOURCE: Vice DATE: November 6, 2018 SNIP: Dozens of pharmaceutical drugs have been detected in aquatic Australian wildlife—a telltale sign that human medications are seeping into the environment from wastewater plants. The insidious effects of prescription drugs on nature’s waterways are relatively understudied. But research has demonstrated that medications excreted in human urine, feces, and bathwater can migrate from sewers into oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams. Monash University research fellow Erinn Richmond surveyed wildlife from six waterways in Australia’s greater Melbourne region. Richmond found 69 pharmaceutical drugs in aquatic insect larvae, aquatic invertebrates, and river-dwelling spiders—species somewhat low on the food-chain that serve as food for animals such as platypus, trout, and fish-eating birds. Among the drugs found were antidepressants, beta-blockers, and anti-Parkinson’s medications. The highest concentration of drugs came from wildlife in a stream adjacent to a wastewater treatment facility. But even more the pristine areas that Richmond tested contained low levels of...
Mercury, PCBs still threaten Arctic and its wildlife, study shows

Mercury, PCBs still threaten Arctic and its wildlife, study shows

SOURCE: CBC News DATE: October 15, 2018 SNIP: A new summary of toxins in the Arctic shows contaminants, such as mercury, continue to threaten polar bears and whales. But new threats — both chemical and climatic — are emerging, says the report done for the eight nations that ring the North Pole. “The number and types of contaminants continue to broaden,” said Canadian scientist Robert Letcher, one of the lead authors of the study for the Arctic Council. Scientists have long known that many substances pumped into southern skies make their way to the North where they work their way throughout the Arctic food web and concentrate in large predators. Among the most common is mercury, a potent neurotoxin and a byproduct of burning coal. Some Canadian polar bear populations have among the highest levels of mercury in the world. More than one-third of bears in the Beaufort Sea region are considered at high risk of health effects from mercury. Also found are persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which can include dioxins and PCBs, as well as residual products from pesticides and other industrial...
How energy companies set off earthquakes miles away from their waste dumps

How energy companies set off earthquakes miles away from their waste dumps

SOURCE: The Washington Post DATE: August 30, 2018 SNIP: Each day across the United States, 2 billion gallons of fossil-fuel-industry wastewater flies through thousands of underground tubes. The injection wells descend into porous rock, filling gaps with brine and chemicals that are the result of extracting oil and gas from the ground. The goal of the wells is for the wastewater to be out of sight, out of drinking water and out of harm’s way. Except the wells can cause earthquakes. In some cases, the quakes begin as far as 15 miles from the wells. In a new study in the journal Science, scientists describe for the first time how earthquakes can be triggered so far away from the wells. An efficient practice by the oil and gas industry is creating a ripple effect far beyond its drilling locations. Geologists have linked injection wells to quakes, with findings based on years of observation. Human-made earthquakes, though most are moderate in size, put 1 in 50 people in the United States at risk, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey analysis. Wastewater injection wells are concentrated in Oklahoma, Texas, California and Kansas, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “Induced earthquakes are becoming more and more of an issue in central and the eastern U.S.,” said University of California at Santa Cruz seismologist Thomas Goebel. In 2011, an injection well in Oklahoma was responsible for a magnitude-5.6 earthquake that damaged a highway, shook buildings and generated a dozen aftershocks. The study authors were able to identify two types of earthquakes triggered by wastewater wells, having everything to do with what kind...
Garbage from Washington state’s booming pot industry clogs gutters, sewers and landfills

Garbage from Washington state’s booming pot industry clogs gutters, sewers and landfills

SOURCE: Spokesman Review DATE: August 14, 2018 SNIP: Washington state’s penchant for getting high is trashing the place. Plastic “doob tubes” and small Mylar bags used to package pot are moldering in gutters, bleaching out in landfills and bobbing in waterways. Concentrated nutrients and fertilizers left over from cannabis growing operations are being dumped in public sewers and making their way past wastewater treatment plants into Puget Sound. And millions of pounds of weed harvest waste that could be composted are instead getting trucked to landfills. “We’re seeing a lot of marijuana packaging in our public spaces,” said Heather Trim, executive director of Zero Waste Washington, which organizes litter cleanups. “Cannabis packaging is adding to our load, which then gets washed into our lakes and Puget...
Greenpeace: Plastic pollution has spread to Antarctica

Greenpeace: Plastic pollution has spread to Antarctica

SOURCE: PRI DATE: June 7, 2018 SNIP: Plastic waste and toxic chemicals found in remote parts of the Antarctic this year add to evidence that pollution is spreading to the ends of the Earth, environmental group Greenpeace said on Thursday. Microplastics — tiny bits of plastic from the breakdown of everything from shopping bags to car tires — were detected in nine of 17 water samples collected off the Antarctic peninsula by a Greenpeace vessel in early 2018, it said. And seven of nine snow samples taken on land in Antarctica found chemicals known as PFAs (polyfluorinated alkylated substances), which are used in industrial products and can harm wildlife. The United Nations’ environment agency says plastic pollution has been detected from the Arctic to Antarctica and in remote places including the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans in the Pacific. “Plastic stays around for hundreds of years,” said author Ilka Peeken of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine...