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There is “a growing concern” over microplastics pollution in farm soils, Kate S. Petersen reported for Environmental Health News this week. Although we have long since known about the effects of microplastics in the ocean, this article showed that “most microplastics are actually accumulating on land, including agricultural areas.”
Why This Matters: Microplastics, as Petersen noted, change the properties of soils, both in a physical and biological sense. As Mary Beth Kirkham, a plant physiologist and distinguished professor of agronomy noted that in her experiments, “The particulate plastic appeared to clog the soil pores, prevent aeration of the soil, and cause…the roots to die.” Although we don’t know the “full impact of microplastics contamination in agricultural soils,” burgeoning research suggests that microplastics can pass through plant— and, when ingested by people potentially impacting our immune systems.
Banning the Beads: There are some places that are moving forward in limiting microplastics and microbeads. In particular, the EU said next year they would “seek a ban following a proposal from EU agency the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to prevent the addition of microplastics to certain products sold in Europe,” as Euractiv reported.
While ECHA claimed that was to make sure the restriction “could be enforced,” the European Environmental Bureau noted that this “gives manufacturers a perverse incentive to switch production from micro to nano plastic, which may be more harmful to human and animal health because it can more easily get inside and harm living cells.”
We’ve also seen from the Obama-era Microbead-Free Waters Act in the United States, that bans which focus on eliminating plastic microbeads from a single industry are too narrow and allow other manufacturers to keep using them in myriad other consumer products.
The day after 200 people had to be air rescued by the National Guard from an oncoming wildfire in California, the LA Times reported that “helicopter crews braved dangerous smoke and flames Tuesday to reach more than 100 hikers, campers and other people stranded in remote locations of the Sierra Nevada by the destructive Creek […]
In the heart of summer, hot asphalt in our cities radiates heat at night causing what’s known as the ubran heat island effect. But a new study published in the journal Science Advances that asphalt is releasing more than heat, it’s emitting harmful air pollutants, especially on hot and sunny days. As the New Scientist: […]
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