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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 547

Recycled materials hold the key to more eco-friendly asphalt production

Pavements are traditionally constructed using hot-mix asphalt, a mix of bitumen and virgin aggregates produced at high temperatures. This requires large amounts of natural resources and energy and releases a large quantity of waste. However, technologies exist to create warm- mix asphalt — a substance produced, transported and compacted at lower temperatures than traditional hot-mix asphalts, resulting in a lower environmental impact and carbon footprint. This study explores the ‘eco- profiles’ of asphalt technologies used to construct urban pavements, assessing various scenarios based on their environmental impact and energy requirements across the entire pavement life cycle.

Study of post-wildfire landscape in Spain assesses efficacy of soil treatments

Soil erosion is one of the most detrimental consequences of forest fires. After a fire, soil can be protected against sediment loss using methods such as mulching by helicopter (aerially covering burnt soil in mulch: helimulching), or needle cast (when leaves fall from affected trees to cover the soil below). However, while such methods show promise at laboratory or small scales, their effectiveness is unclear in real conditions. This study assesses the effectiveness of these methods at protecting burnt soils in north-west Spain.

The route to sustainable, cost-effective soil remediation: protecting soil quality at a contaminated site in Sweden

Human activity is increasingly impacting soil on a global scale, introducing contaminants into soil ecosystems and degrading their quality and ability to provide valuable ecosystem services. A study now compares two different approaches to ecological risk assessment (ERA) of soil contamination — one based on laboratory-derived soil quality standards, and another that accounts for a wider range of soil qualities essential for soil biota (beyond those purely related to contamination). The researchers assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the differing remediation actions supported by each ERA approach.