Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n° 344

Posts Tagged ‘pollution’

Companies commit US$1 billion to fight plastic pollution

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 26 gennaio 2019

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which includes chemical companies, including BASF, Dow and Mitsui Chemicals, Oil majors, including ExxonMobil, Total and Shell, and was convened by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, will fund initiatives in waste management and recycling infrastructure worldwide, and will back innovative technologies that could offer solutions to the large and growing issue of plastic pollution.
“I think everyone agrees that plastic waste does not belong in the ocean or the environment. This demands swift action and leadership from all of us,” David Taylor, president and CEO of Proctor & Gamble, who chairs the AEPW, said at the initiative’s launch in London.
Last year, researchers at the University of California in Santa Barbara found that of the more than 8 billion tonnes of plastic that has been produced since large-scale production began in the 1950s, less than 10 per cent has been recycled, with the rest ending up in landfills or dumped into oceans and other ecosystems.The impact on those ecosystems has been severe. A 2016 report from the World Economic Forum estimated that at current rates, the total weight of marine plastic will be greater than that of the fish in the oceans. Microplastics—invisible fragments of plastic waste—have been detected in many marine species, and are now in the human food chain.The AEPW announced that it would invest in an incubator network, run by Circulate Capital, which will help to develop innovative technologies and business models to prevent plastic waste, and would support Renew Oceans, an India-based organisation that aims to divert plastic waste from rivers.As 60 per cent of ocean plastics come from just five countries in Asia, much of the alliance’s work will focus on the region.The alliance’s members said that they hope to make an economic case, as well as an environmental one.“Most people don’t know that plastic waste has value. The key is unlocking that value and bringing it back to a useful form again,” said Bob Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell, one of the world’s largest plastic producers and the vice-chairman of the initiative, speaking at the AEPW’s launch.“By tackling plastic waste we can also impact communities in a very positive way, and people’s lives in a positive way. It can be a means of commerce in different parts of the world. But what it will take is collaboration, not only within the value chain… but also governments and other stakeholder groups.” The initiative’s launch attracted criticism from some NGOs, including the Netherlands-based Recycling Netwerk, which noted that several of the AEPW’s members are still investing billions of dollars in building substantial new plastic production facilities, and accused the participants of “greenwashing.”“Without tackling the production of plastic at its source, all clean-up efforts will be in vain,” Rob Buurman, Recycling Netwerk’s director, said. (By Global Initiatives 133 Cecil St, #17-02A, Singapore)

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The world’s deepest ocean trenches are packed with pollution

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 16 febbraio 2017

trenchesNOT far off the coast of Guam lies the deepest point on Earth’s surface, the Mariana trench. Its floor is 10,994 metres below sea level. If Mount Everest were flipped upside down into it, there would still be more than 2km of clear water between the mountain’s base and the top of the ocean. Such isolation has led many to assume that it and similar seabed trenches will be among the few remaining pristine places on the planet. However, a study led by Alan Jamieson of Newcastle University in England, has shown that nothing could be further from the truth. As Dr Jamieson and his colleagues report this week in Nature Ecology and Evolution, trenches actually are loaded with pollutants.Despite the cold, the darkness and the high pressure, ocean trenches are home to ecosystems similar in many ways to those found on other parts of the planet. In one important respect, though, they are different. This is where the energy that powers them comes from. In most ecosystems, sunlight fuels the growth of plants which are then consumed by animals. In a few shallower parts of the ocean, hydrothermal vents provide energy-rich chemicals that form the basis of local food chains. No vents are known to exist below 5,000 metres, though, and no sunlight penetrates a trench. The organisms found in them thus depend entirely on dead organic material raining down upon them from far above.Since these nutrients, having once flowed into a trench, never make their way out again, Dr Jamieson found the notion that trenches have somehow remaining untouched by human activities questionable. He suspected that long-lived pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (which were once used widely in electrical equipment) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (employed in the past as flame retardants) might have made their way into the bodies of organisms living in trenches.
To test this idea out, he and his colleagues sent an unmanned lander to the bottom of the Mariana trench and also to the bottom of the Kermadec trench, near New Zealand. This lander fell to the seabed and spent between eight and 12 hours there, capturing amphipods (a type of crustacean, pictured) using funnel traps baited with mackerel. At the end of its mission it jettisoned some ballast and floated back to the surface with its prey.
In total, the lander was able to collect specimens from ten sites in the two trenches. The shallowest site sampled was 7,227 metres down in the Kermadec trench. The deepest was 10,250 metres in the Mariana. When the team looked for pollutants in the captured amphipods, they found that polybrominated diphenyl ethers were indeed present, but at moderate concentrations. Levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, however, were almost off the scale.In animals collected from clean coastal environments, polychlorinated-biphenyl levels do not normally exceed one nanogram (billionth of a gram) per gram of tissue. In grossly polluted areas, like the Liao River in China, that level may rise a bit above 100 nanograms. In the Mariana trench, Dr Jamieson found, amphipods dwelling at 10,250 metres yielded 495 nanograms per gram of the pollutant. Those 8,942 metres down yielded 800 nanograms. And at 7,841 metres he and his colleagues discovered the staggering level of 1,900 nanograms per gram of amphipod tissue analysed. Values from the Kermadec trench were more modest, but still pretty high—ranging from 50 nanograms to 250 nanograms per gram.Precisely why the Mariana trench has such elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls remains unclear. Dr Jamieson suspects it has to do with the trench’s proximity to the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a whirlpool hundreds of kilometres across that has amassed enormous quantities of plastics over the years, and which has the potential to send the pollutants that bind to those plastics deep into the ocean as the plastics degrade and descend.What consequences all this has for the Mariana’s organisms is unclear. Polychlorinated biphenyls disrupt the hormone systems of some animals that dwell nearer the surface, and can also cause cancer, so the news is unlikely to be good. But what Dr Jamieson’s work shows beyond peradventure is that no part of Earth’s surface is insulated from the activities of Man. (photo: trenches) font: “The Economist”)

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Air pollution costs European economies US$ 1.6 trillion a year in diseases and deaths, new WHO study says

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 30 aprile 2015

Copenhagen-docks and Haifa. A staggering US$ 1.6 trillion is the economic cost of the approximate 600 000 premature deaths and of the diseases caused by air pollution in the WHO European Region in 2010, according to the first-ever study of these costs conducted for the Region. The amount is nearly equivalent to one tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the entire European Union in 2013.The new study was published today by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as a 3-day high-level meeting on environment and health in Europe opens. Over 200 representatives from European countries and international and nongovernmental organizations gather in Haifa, Israel, on 28–30 April 2015 to look at achievements, gaps and challenges and set future priorities.”Curbing the health effects of air pollution pays dividends. The evidence we have provides decision-makers across the whole of government with a compelling reason to act. If different sectors come together on this, we not only save more lives but also achieve results that are worth astounding amounts of money,” says Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “Cross-sectoral work is the backbone of the environment and health process, which was initiated 26 years ago, and it is even more relevant today in the discussions taking place at this meeting in Haifa.”Economic cost of the health impact of air pollution in Europe is the first assessment of the economic burden of deaths and diseases resulting from outdoor and indoor air pollution in the 53 countries of the Region.The economic cost of deaths alone accounts for over US$ 1.4 trillion. Adding another 10% to this, as the cost of diseases from air pollution, results in a total of almost US$ 1.6 trillion. In no less than 10 of the 53 countries of the Region, this cost is at or above 20% of national GDP (see Annex for data by country). The study uses the methodology applied in a 2014 report by OECD and makes the calculations based on the most recent economic estimates of the health impacts of air pollution.The economic value of deaths and diseases due to air pollution – US$ 1 600 000 000 000 – corresponds to the amount societies are willing to pay to avoid these deaths and diseases with necessary interventions. In these calculations, a value is attached to each death and disease, independent of the age of the person and which varies according to the national economic context.
Over 90% of citizens in the Region are exposed to annual levels of outdoor fine particulate matter that are above WHO’s air quality guidelines. This accounted for 482 000 premature deaths in 2012 from heart and respiratory diseases, blood vessel conditions and strokes, and lung cancer. In the same year, indoor air pollution resulted in an additional 117 200 premature deaths, five times more in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.”Reducing air pollution has become a top political priority. Air quality will be a key theme at the next Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Georgia in 2016”, says Mr Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). “Fifty-one countries are today finding joint solutions in the framework of the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution. This work must be strengthened to reduce air pollution even further and extended to more countries and to other regions.””About 2500 people are estimated to die in Israel annually as a result of exposure to air pollutants. The main source of air pollution is transportation, mainly in major city centres,” says Mr Ofir Akunis, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Member of Knesset (Parliament) for Israel. “Since 2011, the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s Clean Air Law regulates pollutants from major sources such as transport, industry and energy in accordance with the most stringent standards. The Ministry aims to use all available resources to reduce air pollution, as this means saving the lives of thousands of people, as well as billions to the Israeli economy”.
Improving environment and health in Europe: how far have we gotten?The cost of the health impacts of air pollution is only one of many studies that will provide evidence on the environmental impacts on health to be released at the Haifa meeting.Another new report, Improving environment and health in Europe: how far have we gotten? jointly published by WHO and UNECE, informs that one in four Europeans still falls sick or dies prematurely from environmental pollution. Data from several surveys in priority thematic areas such as water and sanitation, air quality, the day-to-day surroundings of children’s lives, chemicals and asbestos, climate change and health inequalities all show that while progress has been remarkable, it has been uneven.

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A healthy and sustainable future for our oceans

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 19 giugno 2014

john-kerrySustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification – these are the key issues discussed at “Our Ocean” conference, organised by US Secretary of State John Kerry, on 16th June 2014 in Washington. European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki has spoken during the “Political Change Makers” session in which political leaders shared their insights on how they have sought to address ocean issues and implement ocean conservation. The event brought together world leaders, business executives, scientists, and environmental activists in an attempt to deal with major threats to oceans. The key issues addressed included sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries drew upon the reform process of the Common Fisheries Policy and its focus on sustainability, the fight against illegal fishing, the EU’s role in international fisheries governance, and the Blue Growth strategy. Other speakers included US Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) speaking of their roles as co-chairs of the Senate Oceans Caucus.

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European Pollution Regulations Drive Demand for High-performance Automotive

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 16 gennaio 2013

London – European pollution regulations and the intensifying demand for fuel economy are driving the uptake of premium priced, high-performance, long-life automotive functional fluids.New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.chemicals.frost.com), European Automotive Functional Fluids Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $18.8 billion in 2012 and estimates this to reach $23.09 billion in 2018. The research covers engine oils, transmission fluids, power steering fluids, brake fluids and coolants.Such trends have meant that base oils used for manufacturing automotive lubricants are moving towards higher quality, high-performance group II to group V base oils. These base oils are lighter and have a lower viscosity index, supporting better fuel economy and longer life lubricants. “On the one hand, market revenues will rise as these advanced base oils cost double that of conventional group I mineral oils,” said Karthikeyan. “On the other hand, volume demand is set to decline as durable and superior products will result in extended oil drain intervals.” Investing in technologies and having a product line based on superior base oils and additives will accelerate growth. Offering customer service by leveraging IT tools and building OEM partnerships will also be vital to success.“Participants in the European automotive functional fluids market need to build brand equity by introducing newer, high-performance products,” advised Karthikeyan. “Increased marketing spend and workshops for end users and distributors should be aimed at building product awareness. This will help in expanding market share.”
European Automotive Functional Fluids Market (M878-39) is part of the Chemicals & Materials Growth Partnership Service programme. Frost & Sullivan’s related research services include: European Automotive Lubricants Additives Market and European Automotive Paint Additives Market. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants.

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President Obama’s speech to Copenhagen

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 20 dicembre 2009

Greenpeace US executive director Phil Radford said: “The world was waiting for the spirit of yes we can, but all we got was my way or the highway. “President Obama can still save Copenhagen by doing what he called on other leaders to do and give some ground by increasing his commitment to cut global warming pollution. But as it is he crossed an ocean to tell the world he has nothing new to offer, then he said take it or leave it. “By offering no movement on US global warming pollution cuts he showed his disregard for the science and the victims of climate change in the United States and abroad. He now risks being branded as the man who killed Copenhagen.“He said all parties must move, but he offered no movement. He said the decades long split between the rich world and poor needs to end, but his vision of a deal here would give us a three degree Celcius temperature rise which will devastate Africa and the small island states.”

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To protect people’s health from night noise pollution

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 10 ottobre 2009

Today, the WHO Regional Office for Europe launches its Night noise guidelines for Europe.[1] The book provides ground-breaking evidence on how exposure to night noise can damage people’s health, and recommends guideline levels to protect health. The new limit is an annual average night exposure not exceeding 40 decibels (dB). Sleepers that are exposed to higher levels over the year, corresponding to the sound from a quiet street in a residential area, can suffer mild health effects, such as sleep disturbance and insomnia. Long-term average exposure to levels above 55 dB, similar to the noise from a busy street, can trigger elevated blood pressure and heart attacks. One in five Europeans is regularly exposed to such noise levels. “Noise has emerged as the leading environmental nuisance in Europe, and excessive noise is an increasingly common public complaint. The new guidelines will help countries to recognize and address the issues surrounding noise and health,” says Dr Srdan Matic, Unit Head, Noncommunicable Diseases and Environment at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. “Based on a six-year expert evaluation of scientific evidence in Europe, now governments have stronger justifications for regulating exposure to night noise, and clear guidance on what these limits should be.” Thirty-five scientists from medical and acoustical disciplines, and key partners such as the European Commission, were involved in developing the guidelines. Recent research clearly links exposure to night noise with harm to health. Noise can aggravate serious health problems, beyond damage to hearing, particularly through its effects on sleep and the relations between sleep and health. When people are asleep, their ears, brains and bodies continue to react to sounds. Sleep disturbance and annoyance are the first effects of night noise and can lead to mental disorders.  The effects of noise can even trigger premature illness and death. Night noise from aircraft can increase blood pressure, even if it does not wake people. Noise is likely to be more harmful when people are trying to fall asleep and awaken. Recent studies show that aircraft noise in the early morning is the most harmful in increasing the heart rate.

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