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Nov 15th 2017
Why Glitter Must Be Banned
By Daniel Ross
All that glitters ain't gold, or so the old adage goes. And when it comes to the glitter used in everyday cosmetics, specialty make-up, hair products and party paraphernalia, the negative effects on human health and the environment are indeed far from golden.
"They really do get into everything, and despite their tiny size, they can have a devastating impact on humans and non-human animals," wrote Trisia Farrelly, a social anthropologist at Massey University in New Zealand and an expert in waste plastics, in an email to AlterNet.
Glitter is one member of a large family of microplastics—tiny little bits of plastic less than five millimeters in size. Think microbeads, microfibers and fingernail-sized fragments of much larger plastic wastes that have broken down over time. When washed or flushed away, microplastics make their way into our oceans and great lakes, slowly accumulating over time, creating all sorts of health and environmental hazards, the full breadth of which is still being grasped.
For one, there's the issue of how microplastics like cosmetic glitter—made by bonding aluminum with polyethylene terephthalate (PET)—impact sensitive ecosystems. That's because PETs leach out endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which, when eaten by marine life, can cause adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects, said Farrelly. In this recent study, microplastics are shown to significantly impact the reproduction rates of oysters.
Then there's the domino-like effect of microplastics through the food-chain, for the sheer volume of microplastics consumed by seafood-loving humans is staggering. This study from the University of Ghent found that Europeans who eat shellfish can consume as much as 11,000 microplastics per year. But what are some of the long-term implications from glitter passing through the food-chain?
PETs attract and absorb persistent organic pollutants and pathogens, adding an extra layer of contamination. When those at the bottom of the ladder—like molluscs, sea snails, marine worms, and plankton—eat pathogen or pollutant-carrying particles of glitter, these minuscule poison pills can concentrate in toxicity as they move up the food chain, all the way to our dinner plates, said Farrelly.
"When we eat Kai moana [Maori term for seafood], we are taking on these toxins," she wrote. "When they enter the gut, the toxins and pathogens are very easily taken up."
A growing body of research is shining a light on the resulting effects of these toxins and pathogens on humans. Studies connect endocrine disrupting chemicals with marine and freshwater fish population collapses, as well as declines in sex ratios in human populations that live adjacent to plastic factories.
All of which is prompting many marine experts and environmentalists to advocate for the same ban on glitter as there has been on microbeads—the tiny little balls of plastic used in things like exfoliating beauty products.
"At the rate we are going, there could be one pound of plastic for every three pounds of finfish in the ocean in the next ten years," wrote Nick Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy's Trash Free Seas Program, in an email. "And unless action is taken, the problem is only going to get bigger."
At the end of 2015 after a sustained campaign at the state level, the Obama administration signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act, banning plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products. Other countries have subsequently followed suit. The U.K. and New Zealand announced their own prohibitions on microbeads earlier this year.
Importantly, these bans aren't necessarily a reflection of the singular impact from microbeads. Rather, they're a nod to a much wider understanding of the pervasiveness in the environment of microplastics in general, for the amount of microplastics entering the ocean alone is staggering. According to estimates made in 2014, there are between 15 and 51 trillion microplastic particles, weighing between 93 and 236 thousand metric tons, sitting in the world's seas.
What's more, their impacts are myriad
.A number of studies have shown that tiny plastic particles have been detected in sea salts sold commercially. In an interview with the Guardian, Sherri Mason, a professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia who led one of these studies, described plastics as being "ubiquitous in the air, water, the seafood we eat, the beer we drink, the salt we use—plastics are just everywhere." Microfibers have even been found in honey.
Microplastic had also made their way into 83 percent of tap water samples from more than a dozen countries around the world including India, Lebanon, France and Germany, according to an investigation by Orb Media. The U.S. languished at the bottom of the pile, with plastic fibers appearing in 94 percent of samples.
But microplastics comprise only a fraction of the global plastic pollution problem. The world's oceans are pockmarked, for example, with massive clusters of marine debris and plastics—the Great Pacific Garbage Patch found in the North Pacific Ocean proving to be the largest such gyre. According to the U.N., more than 8 million tons of plastic makes its way into the ocean each year—equal to a garbage truck of plastic dumped every minute.
Data shows that rapidly developing economies, where population growth and consumption are outpacing waste collection and recycling capacity, are responsible for the largest amounts of plastic wastes entering the oceans, said Nick Mallos. And he warned that, without intervention, growing economies would likely exacerbate these "unintended consequences of development spread." Still, he remains optimistic.
"By raising awareness of the issue of ocean plastic," Mallos wrote, "we can curb the flow through reduced consumption, improved waste management and innovative product and material solutions."
Sep 8th 2016
As much as 12.7m metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year contributing to Acidseas and, according to the World Economic Forum, there could be more plastic in the Acidseas than fish by 2050. The massive distress of the world’s oceans, unchecked climate change and pollution is only part of the story. Fish are reported to be “stuffing themselves” on plastic, which is coated in bacteria and algae, mimicking their natural food sources. Some of that plastic ultimately ends up on our dinner table. Now scientists are trying to figure out its effects.
A step in the right direction
Acidseas, A call for the full ban of dangerous plastic microbeads may be considered if cosmetic companies do not “clean up their act”, MPs have said.
In a new research briefing on Marine Microplastic Pollution, the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee have warned of increasing amounts of damage done to marine life, leading to potential harm to human health as a result of plastic accumulating in the marine environment.
An estimated 16-86 tons of plastic microbeads commonly found in cosmetics such as exfoliating scrubs and some toothpastes are washed into the sea each year from the UK. These microplastics are in turn ingested by marine life and have been found in zooplankton, mussels, oysters, seals and whales along with several other species.
One study found microplastic contamination to be present in 36.5 per cent of fish in the English Channel, leading to concerns that the problem extends further than previously realised.
Commenting on the research ahead of a hearing in Parliament on Wednesday on the subject, Mary Creagh MP, the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee said: “This paper raises important questions about the damage microplastics could be doing to our marine environment. We know shellfish and fish are ingesting plastic fragments, what we don’t know is the effect this is having on them and on human health.”
“The most effective way to reduce microplastic pollution is to prevent plastic entering our waters in the first place. Cosmetic companies need to clean up their act and phase out the plastic microbeads causing marine pollution. If they refuse to act, the Environmental Audit Committee will consider calling for a full ban on microbeads.”
Microplastics, which are fragments of broken down plastics and other synthetic fibres under 5mm, can break down even further according to the research paper, creating what is known as nanoplastic particles for which there is no estimate on scale.
At present the impact that microplastic pollution could have on marine life and human health is uncertain. However, laboratory studies carried out so far have shown that plastic ingestion can have a detrimental effect on reproduction and feeding activity for many species.
Current estimates are based on surface pollution, since it is impossible to gauge the amount of plastic at the bottom of the ocean. It has been estimated that there were between 15 to 51 trillion microplastic particles floating on the surface of the world’s oceans in 2014, weighing between 93 and 236 metric tons.
See also our Gobal warming page with a sceptics video included.
Our acidseas.The main task now seems
to be to reduce the amount of carbon that we discharge into the atmosphere,
some of this is absorbed by the forests and other green plants and more
disappears into the ocean creating acidseas, but we are a long, long way from achieving a carbon
balance. There is hope as measures
intensify to attack the problem on all fronts, that one day, hopefully before
it is too late, that we can turn our attention to the next problem.
Fred Pearce is an environmental consultant to New Scientist magazine He reveals that the super-ships that keep the West in everything from Christmas gifts to computers pump out killer chemicals linked to thousands of deaths because of the filthy fuel they use.
As ships get
bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of
all is that just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much
lung-clogging sulfur pollution as all the world’s cars.
And now in 2015 This is what we are doing about acidseas and our climate.
two-week United Nations conference on climate change is over,
and no matter what else happens, it has already been a clear-cut success
in two critical areas.
As important as a global accord is, the most influential actors on climate change have been cities and businesses, and leaders in both groups made it clear that they will not wait for an agreement that, if it comes together, won’t even take full effect until 2020.
Mayors and officials representing more than 500 cities organized and attended their own summit in Paris (which Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo as co-host).
It was the first time local leaders had ever gathered in such numbers during a UN climate- change conference. They came not only to ensure that their voices were heard by heads of state, but also to express their determination to act on their own, and to learn from one another and share best practices.
Cities account for about 70 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, and while some heads of state have been arguing over which countries should do more, cities recognize that reducing their emissions is in their own best interest.
After all, when cities cut their emissions, they help their residents live longer, healthier lives. When they improve the energy efficiency of their buildings, they save their taxpayers money. When they invest in modern low-carbon infrastructure, they raise their residents’ standard of living. Taken together, these actions make cities more attractive to businesses and investors. Even if climate change were not a concern, reducing emissions would be smart policy.
City leaders rarely need to be convinced of the benefits of climate-related actions, and in Paris, they committed to doing more. By Saturday, more than 400 cities had signed the Compact of Mayors, which requires them to set bold climate goals, adopt a common measurement system for emissions, and publicly report their progress. If so many cities can agree to these three actions, why not nations?
The Compact of Mayors is the best insurance we have against backsliding by central governments, and it’s the best hope we have -- along with technological innovation -- for accelerating the pace of change in every region of the world over the next five years.
The private sector will drive technological innovation, but the pace of change is being artificially slowed by a market failure: the inability of investors to accurately value companies that carry climate-related risks. That will soon start to change.
On Friday in Paris, Mark Carney, chairman of the Group of 20’s Financial Stability Board, announced the creation of the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (which I agreed to serve on as chairman). Carney is creating this industry-led task force, which will build on the work of other organizations in this field, to bring transparency to the opaque risks that climate change presents to markets around the world.
Sea-level rise, storms, droughts -- they all have harmful effects on business: delaying shipping, disrupting supply lines and damaging facilities. Yet, investors are often flying blind when it comes to these and other climate-related risks.
The market cannot accurately value companies, and investors cannot efficiently allocate capital, without reliable data on the risks they face. Furthermore, as the world transitions to a low-carbon economy, structural shifts in carbon-heavy industries will occur that will affect their growth and employment. Investors ought to have reliable information about which, and to what extent, companies are exposed to those shifts. That requires common measuring and reporting systems, which the new task force will work to create.
To be clear: Disclosure will be voluntary, and the task force will not seek to change laws about what must be disclosed by companies. Our aim will be to make disclosure easier, more complete and more useful to companies and investors. We expect strong participation from the financial sector, because the true beneficiaries of this information will be financial firms and investors. The better data they have, the better chance we have of mitigating market volatility and instability that arises from climate change and the policy responses to it.
The work that cities and businesses are doing will play a central role in the fight against climate change. In fact, even though any global agreement may not hold the planet's temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, the events of the first week have the potential to narrow the gap between what nations are willing to do and what scientists tell us is necessary to avert to the most harmful effects of climate change.
Cities and businesses can achieve reductions that go well beyond the pledges made by nations, and that will put the future of the planet -- and markets -- on firmer footing. - Bloomberg View
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for more information just google for pollution from ships
Go to http://www.vesselfinder.com/ to see where they are now
Fortunately with modern communication systems these dangerous situations can be monitored easily and warnings issued by local government, civil defense, police, local radio and television.Home Page - human - Acidseas