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Cigarette butts are the most-littered item found at beach clean ups. John R. Platt

By Tara Lohan

By now it's no secret that plastic waste in our oceans is a global epidemic. When some of it washes ashore — plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers — we get a stark reminder. And lately one part of this problem has been most glaring to volunteers who comb beaches picking up trash: cigarette butts.

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sonsam / iStock / Getty Images

By Grace Francese

A new Environmental Working Group (EWG) study published in Environmental Research found that nitrate, one of the most common contaminants of drinking water, may cause up to 12,594 cases of cancer per year, but that's not its only danger: It can pose unique health risks to children.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A fuel truck carries fuel into a fracking site past the warning signs Jan. 27, 2016 near Stillwater, Oklahoma. J Pat Carter / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

For more than three decades, the U.S. government has mismanaged toxic oil and gas waste containing carcinogens, heavy metals and radioactive materials, according to a new Earthworks report — and with the country on track to continue drilling and fracking for fossil fuels, the advocacy group warns of growing threats to the planet and public health.

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DESIREE MARTIN / AFP / Getty Images

What's the last thing you ate? Chances are you took a big bite of plastic.

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The 100-meter wide crater on Runit Island was deemed a good place to dump as much soil contaminated with plutonium as possible. Chunks of unexploded plutonium-239 were also disposed of in the hole. Google Earth

New research found high levels of radiation in giant clams near a 42-year old nuclear waste site in the Central Pacific. The findings have scientists concerned that pollution from the site is leaving the enclosed structure and leaking into the ocean and the food chain, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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The Lady K tow boat kicks up a wake full of green algae a few hundred feet from the city of Toledo's Water Intake on Lake Erie, for testing on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. Ty Wright / The Washington Post / Getty Images

By Valerie Vande Panne

In February, the voters of Toledo, Ohio, passed a ballot initiative that gives Lake Erie and those who rely on the lake's ecosystem a bill of rights. The idea is to protect and preserve the ecosystem so that the life that depends on it — humans included — can have access to safe, fresh drinking water.

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Cigarette butt litter. Tavallai / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Dipika Kadaba

We've known for more than 50 years that smoking cigarettes comes with health hazards, but it turns out those discarded butts are harmful for the environment, too. Filtered cigarette butts, although small, contain dozens of chemicals, including arsenic and benzene. These toxins can leach into the ground or water, creating a potentially deadly situation for nearby birds, fish and other wildlife.

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Tom Hilton / CC BY 2.0

By Tiffany Higgins

It's a frigid December morning when I meet Chairman Joseph Holley at the Te-Moak tribal headquarters in Elko, Nevada, seven hours north of Las Vegas. Holley, tall and round-faced, offers me a cup of coffee. He has the burly build of a man who worked 37 years in the area's gold mines, drilling aboveground and digging below the surface.

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Zuzana Caputova on March 30 in the town of Pezinok. JOE KLAMAR / AFP / Getty Images

Zuzana Caputova, a lawyer and environmental activist whose campaign against a toxic waste dump earned her the nickname the "Erin Brockovich of Slovakia," was elected the country's first female president on Saturday, NPR reported.

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Aerial view of the explosion site of a chemical factory on March 22 in Yancheng, Jiangsu Province of China. Caixin Media / VCG / Getty Images)

At least 47 people have died in an explosion at a plant in Yancheng, China Thursday run by a chemical company with a history of environmental violations, Sky News reported.

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Jelena83 / iStock / Getty Images

By Michael D. Mehta

It may be natural, but there's nothing safe or environmentally sound about heating your home with wood.

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