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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 557

Antibiotics - even low levels found in the environment might drive resistance

Researchers behind a new literature survey of antibiotic levels in the environment call for regulators to recognise antimicrobials as pollutants and to regulate them similarly to other hazardous substances — for which environmental limits, reference standards and treatment protocols have been set. Recognising that low-level contamination from antibiotics in waste and waste-water streams, agricultural run-off, and pharmaceutical effluent may be important risk factors linked to antibiotic resistance, they suggest setting maximum acceptable levels that are below those selecting for antimicrobial resistance. They suggest that it is vital to view antibiotics as a contaminant and to monitor levels in soil and water.

Ecosystem restoration goals - study highlights need for global priority areas and collective effort

Restoring global ecosystems is an urgent priority in efforts to conserve biodiversity and stabilise our planet’s climate. However, the costs and outcomes of ecosystem restoration differ markedly by location and habitat type. A recent study has developed a multi-criteria cost-benefit approach to identify priority areas for optimal restoration of terrestrial cropland and pastureland back to natural ecosystems, considering the outcomes of biodiversity conservation, climate mitigation and cost minimisation.

Heat tolerance found in sweet potato cultivars could protect food security from the effects of climate change

Food security is a growing concern as crop yields are threatened by increasing climatic variability - periods of excessively hot weather, or heatwaves, specifically. This study examines the crop diversity of the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) to understand which genetic variants flourish in response to climatic stress and to identify the crop traits that aid this success.

Nanoplastics may reduce efficacy of constructed wetlands for water treatment

Water bodies absorb the nitrogen released by human activity and must, therefore, be protected against nutrient overloading (or eutrophication), which can cause significant environmental damage. Constructed wetlands (CWs) are widely used as an eco-friendly treatment method for this; however, the efficacy of CWs may be affected by the presence of emerging contaminants in wastewater. This study explores how nano- sized particles of polystyrene plastic (nanoplastics) affect nitrogen removal (denitrification) in CWs.