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News Alert

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

Subscribers receive a regular news bulletin by email, free of charge, which summarises scientific studies in easy-to-read language with policy implications clearly highlighted. The studies are carefully selected for quality and European policy relevance.

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 480

Half of the land area in Europe is within 1.5 kilometres of transport infrastructure, with large-scale impact on wildlife

Transport infrastructure is so widespread in Europe that half of the land area is within 1.5 kilometres (km) of paved roads and railway lines, researchers have calculated. The researchers found that in Spain, transport infrastructure has an impact on the abundance of birds in almost half of the country and is affecting the abundance of mammals across almost all of the land area.

QUICKScan: a quick, participatory method for exploring environmental policy problems

Policymakers often have to make decisions under great complexity, uncertainty and time pressure. A new study presents a support tool for the first stage of policymaking: identifying and exploring alternatives to solve problems. The software tool, called QUICKScan, increases the speed of this process and combines the input of many stakeholders in participatory workshops. It has been applied 70 times in 20 different countries, for a wide range of environmental policy issues.

Banned pesticides continue to affect toxicity in streams

Many toxic pesticides have been banned by the EU, however some can remain in the environment for many decades. Aquatic invertebrates are particularly vulnerable to pesticides, which can alter their feeding behaviour, growth and mobility. New research has found that persistent pesticides can increase toxicity in streams by up to 10 000 times compared to the residues of currently used pesticides. The researchers recommend these be taken into account when calculating overall toxicity.

Which factors make drugs persistent? A look at sulphonamides in Polish rivers

Up to 90% of consumed drugs enter the environment. This may have negative effects on wildlife, especially when the drugs take long periods to break down. This study assessed the breakdown of sulphonamides — a class of antibacterials — in samples from two rivers in Poland. The results showed that sulphamethoxazole, a common veterinary antibiotic, was the most persistent and that various factors inhibit degradation, including low temperatures, heavy metal pollution and low pH.