IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [6/23 - 6/29/2018]
01 Chinese Officials Will Be Responsible For The Environment
Leading Party and government officials at the county, city and provincial levels across China will be held accountable if they fail to protect the local environment. They will be the first to be questioned if antipollution targets are not met, according to China's latest directive to toughen the fight against pollution.
China aims to improve the overall environmental quality and ensure a significant decrease in pollutant emissions by 2020. By 2035, the country is expected to see its environment fundamentally improved after the industrial structure and people's lifestyle have become environmentally friendly, according to the directive published on Sunday.
Local governments are also required to draft annual action plans and report the results to the central government every year. Officials who fail to meet requirements and contribute to environmental damage will be put on record and subject to a lifelong accountability system.
China also plans to establish an independent supervision system and unify environmental supervision forces to ensure the directive can be fully implemented, Xu added.
Source: China Daily
02 Nanotechnology Limits Pushed
China has made several breakthroughs in cutting-edge nanotechnology in the past five years that will have significant applications in electric vehicles, industrial printing and public health, scientists said on Wednesday.
In recent years, China has created a lithium-ion power battery capable of safely storing 300 watt hours per kilogram of mass, which could power a more than 500 kilometer trips in the EV 200 electric sedan produced by Beijing Automotive Group Co, said Wang Chen, a researcher from the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology.
At the same time, China has used nanotechnologies to make breakthroughs in the next generation of rechargeable batteries, namely lithium-sulfur and lithium-air batteries, said Li Hong, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Physics.
Compared with lithium-ion batteries, lithium-sulfur batteries use sulfur rather than expensive alloys for electrodes, making them cheaper, lighter and able to store almost double the energy for the same mass. China has created a world-leading lithium-sulfur battery capable of holding 609 Wh/kg, Li said.
Source: China Daily
03 “Electrogeochemistry” Captures Carbon, Produces Fuel, Offsets Ocean Acidification
A new study published June 25 in Nature Climate Change evaluates the potential for recently described methods that capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through an "electrogeochemical" process that also generates hydrogen gas for use as fuel and creates by-products that can help counteract ocean acidification.
The process uses electricity from a renewable energy source for electrolysis of saline water to generate hydrogen and oxygen, coupled with reactions involving globally abundant minerals to produce a solution that strongly absorbs and retains carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Rau and other researchers have developed several related methods, all of which involve electrochemistry, saline water, and carbonate or silicate minerals.
The electrogeochemical methods have been demonstrated in the laboratory, but more research is needed to scale them up. The technology would probably be limited to sites on the coast or offshore with access to saltwater, abundant renewable energy, and minerals.
04 Recycling: Senate Inquiry Recommends All Single-Use Plastic Be Banned
A Senate inquiry into Australia’s recycling crisis has recommended that all single-use plastics - which could potentially takeaway containers, chip packets and coffee cups with plastic linings - be banned by 2023.
While the report did not define what single-use plastics could be banned, senator Whish-Wilson said it could include takeaway containers, chip packets, plastic bags and coffee cups with plastic linings. The report also calls on the government to prioritise waste production over controversial waste-to-energy and for government departments to set mandatory targets for using recycle material.
Tuesday’s report concluded the current recycling crisis offered an opportunity to reform Australia’s waste system that was “too important to be missed”.
Source: The Guardian
05 Exposure To Air Pollution in Pregnancy Does Not Increase Symptoms of Attention-Deficit
A study of 30,000 children from seven European countries found no association between prenatal exposure to air pollution and symptoms of attention-deficit and hyperactivity.
Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy may not be associated with an increased risk of attention-deficit and hyperactivity symptoms in children aged 3 to 10 years. This was the conclusion of a new study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by the "la Caixa" Banking Foundation. The study included data on nearly 30,000 children from seven European countries.
Recent studies have concluded that prenatal exposure to air pollution could affect brain development in children, but the evidence on the effects of air pollution on ADHD symptoms is limited.
Source: Science Daily
06 Pruitt Seeks to Limit EPA’s Authority to Block Water Pollution Permits
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt is planning to limit the agency’s authority to block permits for activities that could pollute or harm waterways. The regulation would likely be the most significant change to how the EPA enforces the Clean Water Act’s restrictions on dredging or filling waterways in four decades.
Pruitt said the actions would increase regulatory certainty while still maintaining protections for clean water. The permitting process at issue is at the core of the Clean Water Act. It restricts a wide range of activities that could harm lakes, rivers or other water bodies, like dumping pollutants into them or obstructing them.
07 Environmental Pollution in Ca Mau Rises to Alarming Level
Despites efforts by authorities, pollution at industrial parks and clusters in the southernmost province of Ca Mau has risen to alarming level, affecting the lives of local residents.
Located at the town’s entrance, Doc River Industrial Park (IP), which has more than 10 seafood processing facilities, was once the province’s pride since it offered jobs to a large number of locals and contributed significantly to the province’s coffers. But the same processing facilities have now become a big concern for Doc River Town’s residents.
Ngo Chi Hung, head of Ca Mau province’s Department of Environment Protection, said some factories have managed to stop the pollution but many others sneakily discharge wastewater and gases during non-working hours meaning authorities cannot catch them in the act. Besides, most of the seafood and fish sauce processing facilities in the Doc River Town and Hoa Trung IZs are located along rivers, making it difficult for authorities to discover their wastewater discharge, he said.
The enterprises have been instructed to install cameras to monitor their wastewater treatment by this month.
The province has decided it will no longer allow the setting up of seafood processing facilities outside industrial zones.
08 Most of the Indoor Air We Breathe Is Polluted With Microplastic Particles
Although recent studies have shown that microplastics have been found in our bottled and tap water, additional research now reveals that the majority of microplastics in our bodies comes from the air we inhale each day.
“Plastic production has increased from 1.7 to 322 million tons annually over the last 60 years,” said Dr. Kevin Luo, senior air filtration specialist for global indoor air purification brand Blueair. Simply showering with a body scrub can flush 100,000 microplastic beads into wastewater then into the air, the United Kingdom’s Environmental Audit Committee reported.
These microplastics can lead to cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, induce cancer and impact the immune and nervous systems, according to Luo. Children face the biggest threat, as they’re more active than adults and therefore breathe more rapidly and take in more air in relation to their body weights. Their young respiratory systems are also still developing, said Luo.
09 UC Santa Cruz Offers New Major In Environmental Sciences
UC Santa Cruz has approved a new major in environmental sciences leading to a B.S. degree. An interdepartmental program with an emphasis on the physical sciences, the new major will teach students how to apply fundamental concepts of chemistry, physics, and mathematics to environmental problems in areas such as climate, pollution, and water resources.
"The quantitative approach and focus on physical sciences distinguish this major from related programs," said Patrick Chuang, professor of earth and planetary sciences. "I've seen many students struggling to find the right major for them, and I saw the need for a program rooted in the physical sciences that applies those tools to environmental issues."
The new program is complementary to the environmental studies major, based in the Social Sciences Division, which emphasizes social, political, and economic aspects of environmental issues, as well as ecology, conservation biology, and sustainability.
Source: Santa Cruz News Center
10 Deluge of Electronic Waste Turning Thailand into “World’s Rubbish Dump”
Thailand, with its lax environmental laws, has become a dumping ground for e-waste over the past six months, but authorities are clamping down, fearful that the country will become the “rubbish dump of the world”.
After five months in which e-waste imports have increased to 37,000 tonnes so far this year (more is thought to have entered illegally), Thailand has become the first south-east Asian nation to follow China’s example and crack down on the legal and illegal e-waste coming in.
“We already have too much electronic waste here in Thailand. It is not our burden to bring this pollution from the rest of the world to the next generation of Thai people,” said Thailand’s deputy police chief, Wirachai Songmetta.
Thai customs officers are now pushing back 20 containers of e-waste a day that are landing in Thai ports, and in the next two months the government plans to pass legislation to ban foreign e-waste and plastic waste from entering Thailand.
Source: The Guardian