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Climate

Humidity Is the Real Heatwave Threat

By Alex Kirby

When the mercury climbs to extreme levels, it's the dangerous humidity produced by heat reacting with water-sodden air that can spell death, not just the heat alone.

U.S. researchers have warned yet again of the need to beware the risks of this combination. With fierce heat waves expected to become more common as the climate warms, they say humidity can greatly intensify the effects of the heat by itself.

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Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska. Plants on the Arctic tundra absorb mercury from the air, then transfer it to soil when they die. Paxson Woelber / Flickr

Mercury From Industrialized Nations Is Polluting the Arctic—Here’s How It Gets There

By Daniel Obrist

Scientists have long understood that the Arctic is affected by mercury pollution, but know less about how it happens. Remote, cold and seemingly pristine, why is such an idyllic landscape so contaminated with this highly toxic metal?

I recently returned from a two-year research project in Alaska, where I led field research into this issue alongside fellow scientists from the University of Colorado; the University of Nevada's Desert Research Institute; the University of Toulouse and the Sorbonne University in France; and the Gas Technology Institute in Illinois.

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Cap Sciences / Flickr

Electronic Waste Study Finds $65 Billion in Raw Materials Discarded in Just One Year

The amount of electronic waste around the world grew to a record 45 million tons in 2016, according to a United Nations-backed study released on Wednesday.

To put that in perspective, the weight of last year's e-waste was equivalent to about 4,500 Eiffel Towers, according to the study by the UN university, the International Telecommunication Union and the International Solid Waste Association. The amount of e-waste—defined as anything with a plug or a battery—rose by eight percent since 2014, the time of the last assessment.

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Trump Watch
Science Democrats / Flickr

Why Honeycutt Is Such an Alarming Choice for EPA's Science Advisory Panel

By Elena Craft

Michael Honeycutt—the man set to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) prestigious Science Advisory Board—has spent most of his career as a credentialed counterpoint against almost anything the EPA has proposed to protect human health.

Fortunately, his lone voice for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality rarely carried beyond the Lone Star State. Until now.

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Science
Rita Schoeny (top, middle) attending a march with friends

I Am a 30-Year Veteran Scientist From the U.S. EPA: I Can’t Afford to Be Discouraged

By Rita Schoeny

. . . And neither can you.

Since January, we have seen a continual assault on our environmental protections. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put a political operative with no scientific experience in charge of vetting EPA grants, and the agency is reconsidering an Obama-era regulation on coal ash. The well-established legal processes for promulgating environmental regulations, and—very pointedly—the science underlying environmental regulation are being jettisoned by the Trump administration. As scientists, we must stand up for science and ensure that it is not tossed aside in public policy and decision-making.

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How Two Brothers Convinced the Indonesian Government to Clean Up the World's Most Polluted River

By Gary Bencheghib and Sam Bencheghib

On August 14, we set out to kayak down the world's most polluted river, the Citarum River located in Indonesia, to document and raise awareness about the highly toxic chemicals in its waters and the masses of plastics floating on its surface.

We paddled a total of 68km in two weeks on two plastic bottle kayaks from the village of Majalaya, located just south of Bandung to Pantai Bahagia, the river mouth at the Java Sea. Each kayak was made of 300 plastic bottles to demonstrate that trash can have a second life.

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EPA Delays Toxic Waste Rule for Coal-Fired Power Plants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally delayed Wednesday implementation of an Obama-era rule regulating waste from coal-fired power plants. The rule sets specific limits on toxins like lead, arsenic and mercury in wastewater from power plants, potentially lowering pollution by 1.4 billion pounds a year and saving an estimated $500 million in public health benefits.

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Food
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Your Tuna Can Carry 36 Times More Pollutants Depending on Where It Was Caught

The next time you go out for seafood, you might want to ask where the tuna was caught.

According to new research from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, the levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the muscle tissue of yellowfin tuna caught in the more industrialized areas of the northeast Pacific Ocean and northeast Atlantic Ocean can be as much as 36 times higher than in tuna caught in pristine waters of the West Pacific Ocean.

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Health
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Did You Know ... Most Imported Cosmetics Are Never Tested by the FDA

By Melanie Benesh

According to a New York Times story published Wednesday, contaminants such as mercury, lead and bacteria, and other banned ingredients, are showing up in an alarming number of imported personal care products. This follows recent news that asbestos was found in tests of imported makeup marketed to tweens.

The Times story is based on a letter sent to Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In the letter, the FDA revealed that imports of personal care products have doubled in the last decade and that imports from China have increased 79 percent in the last five years. The FDA also disclosed that in 2016, 15 percent of imported personal care products inspected had adverse findings and 20 percent of products the FDA tested in its own labs had adverse findings.

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