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Greenpeace Finds Microplastics and Hazardous Chemicals in Remote Antarctic Waters
Another day, another sign of the reach of the global ocean plastics crisis. A Greenpeace expedition to Antarctica turned up microplastics in more than half of ocean water samples taken in the world's southernmost waters. It also found chemicals dangerous to wildlife in a majority of snow samples, Greenpeace reported Wednesday.
"We may think of the Antarctic as a remote and pristine wilderness," Frida Bengtsson of Greenpeace's Protect the Antarctic campaign said in the press release, "but from pollution and climate change to industrial krill fishing, humanity's footprint is clear. These results show that even the most remote habitats of the Antarctic are contaminated with microplastic waste and persistent hazardous chemicals."
Microplastic sampling in Antarctic waters from aboard the Arctic Sunrise. Sandra Schoettner, marine biologist and oceans campaigner with Greenpeace Germany and crew deploying the so-called manta trawl – a net specifically designed for skimming small particles from the sea surface.Christian Åslund / Greenpeace
Greenpeace took the samples on a landmark expedition during the first three months of 2018 that helped fill in the limited global data on microplastic pollution in the Antarctic. In seven of eight samples of surface water tested, they found at least one microplastic per litre (approximately 1.06 quarts) of water. Out of nine samples taken with manta trawl nets, they found two that contained microplastics.
Greenpeace also tested for chemicals known as per- and polyfluorinated alkylated substances (PFASs). These are chemicals used in industrial processes and commercial products, notably for water or dirt repellent in outdoor gear. They break down very slowly once they enter the environment and have been known to impact wildlife reproduction and development. Greenpeace found PFASs in seven of nine snow samples. The results were reported in depth in the document Microplastics and Persistent Fluorinated Chemicals in the Antarctic.
Campaigner Thilo Maack takes snow samples, for testing of environmental pollutants, on Greenwich Island in the Antarctic.Paul Hilton / Greenpeace
Greenpeace's research was part of a campaign to create the largest protected area on Earth in the Antarctic. The Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, proposed by the EU, would be 1.8 million square kilometers (approximately 1.12 million square miles) and will be decided on at the Antarctic Ocean Commission Meeting in October 2018.
Bengtsson said the expedition results reinforced the need for such a sanctuary.
"Plastic has now been found in all corners of our oceans, from the Antarctic to the Arctic and at the deepest point of the ocean, the Mariana Trench. We need urgent action to reduce the flow of plastic into our seas and we need large scale marine reserves—like a huge Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary which over 1.6 million people are calling for—to protect marine life and our oceans for future generations," she said.
In addition to the smaller pollutants and plastics, Bengtsson also noticed refuse from the fishing industry on the journey.
"Buoys, nets and tarpaulins drifted in between icebergs, which was really sad to see. We took them out of the water, but it really made clear to me how we need to put vast parts of this area off-limits to human activity if we're going to protect the Antarctic's incredible wildlife," she said.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."