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Environment Policy

News Alert

The fortnightly News Alert forms the cornerstone of the Science for Environment Policy service.

Full details of the research paper that each article is based on are provided, along with contact details for the lead author of the original study, should subscribers wish to find out more.

Latest Alert

Issue 522

Exploring the exposome: study measures multitude of environmental influences on health

Scientists have measured how children and pregnant women are exposed to over 120 environmental factors influencing our health — from air and noise pollution to green space and access to public transport. The study gathered and analysed data from six European countries to build a picture of the ‘exposome’ — the array of environmental factors that humans are exposed to from the moment they are conceived. A better understanding of the exposome could help us understand the role of the environment in the onset of various diseases, including cancer and other chronic disorders such as cardiovascular disease.

Monetising the biodiversity benefit of reducing nitrogen pollution in the air

Nitrogen deposited from the atmosphere is in decline in Western Europe due to targeted policies on emissions, with emissions 25% lower than their peak in 1990. Policy measures to lower nitrogen air pollution — which damages plant diversity, buildings and human health — have made an impact and are forecast to continue to lower nitrogen levels in the future, offering an opportunity to evaluate their impact. This study uses the UK as a case study to answer the policy question: what is the economic impact on biodiversity of forecast reductions in nitrogen pollution?

Nanoplastics damage marine creatures’ natural defences, increasing lethal effects of POPs

Nano-sized particles of plastic can be more damaging to marine species than larger sized microplastics, a new study shows. Lab tests revealed that nanoplastics can damage cell membranes in tiny marine creatures called rotifers (Rotifera), disrupting their natural defences against toxicants. The researchers found that rotifers that had been exposed to nanoparticles of polystyrene were significantly more susceptible to the lethal effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

Transformed nanoparticles in effluent can affect sediment-dwelling species

Silver nanoparticles present in the effluent from waste-water treatment plants could have toxic effects on aquatic organisms, new research suggests. The lab-based study tested the effects of nanoparticle-containing effluent on several crustacean and algae species. The researchers observed that epibenthic crustaceans (those living in or on sediments at the bottom of water bodies) were the most sensitive; notably, a 20–45% higher death rate was observed compared with those exposed to nanoparticle-free effluent.