Microplastics found in the bloodstreams of cows and pigs

October 26, 2021 by  
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The meat you buy in the store may be contaminated with microplastics. A recent study by Free University of Amsterdam found microplastics in the bloodstreams of pigs and cows for the first time. The findings have sparked questions over public health, with experts expressing fears over contaminants possibly affecting the entire food chain.  Previous studies have found microplastics in vegetables, birds and sea animals, but this is the first time plastic particles have been found in farm animals’ blood. According to Dr. Heather Leslie, the study’s lead researcher and an expert in microplastics, “hundreds of other animals also have microplastics in their bodies. But in cows and pigs, it had not been discovered before.” Related: New study finds microplastics in fruits and vegetables The study included 12 cows and six pigs, all of which tested positive for the presence of microplastics. According to Dr. Leslie, microplastics in the soil likely found their way into crops eaten by animals. Since the particles cannot be broken down by the body, they remain in the bloodstream for years.  Microplastics are already present in water, soil , air, and food. Scientists are now taking a closer look at the impact of these contaminants. Several studies have linked the particles to health complications such as immune overreaction, inflammation and increased risk of heart disease. “If you want to assess the risks, you first have to know what the actual exposure is and how toxic it is. If we are above the values ??that are still safe and responsible, then we have to do something about it,” Leslie said. Researchers now say that humans must act to determine the extent of plastic pollution in the food chain to protect both animals and humans. “It is in the interest of animal and human health protection to further explore this nascent signal of plastic pollution exposure in the food chain,” Leslie said. Via Earth Lead image via Pixabay

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Microplastics found in the bloodstreams of cows and pigs

Researchers and Indigenous groups collaborate to save caribou

October 19, 2021 by  
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Scientists are working with Indigenous communities to change the fate of Arctic caribou herds threatened by climate change. Habitat loss has caused a 56% decline in North America’s wild caribou population over the past 20 years, a situation that scientists and Indigenous conservation groups are determined to change. Recently, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $718,000 to Logan Berner, an assistant professor at Northern Arizona University’s School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems (SICCS), for a three-year study dubbed “Fate of the Caribou.” The study offers insights into how human actions and a changing environment affect the caribou. Related: Indigenous communities are crucial in protecting the Amazon According to Berner, the study will continue to collaborate with local Indigenous groups to determine the best ways to protect the vital animals . “Our interdisciplinary research team will collaborate with members of local Indigenous and rural communities to conduct large-scale ecological analyses across multiple caribou herds in North America using novel ecological modeling, decades of satellite observations, and extensive field data,” said Berner. Berner will also collaborate with other parties to carry out interdisciplinary research to find ways of advancing the protection of wild caribou. The team includes Regents’ professor Scott Goetz, Earth scientists , ecologists, remote sensing experts and more. According to the researchers, they will be working towards generating actionable results for the management of caribou herds. “Our research will help advance understanding and management of caribou as we partner with the Indigenous-led caribou and natural resource management boards that are central to Arctic governance. We will work with them to produce actionable science that can inform the policies and co-management of caribou herds stretching from Hudson’s Bay to western Alaska,” the team wrote in a research description. Wild caribou are an important land-based species in the Arctic for both humans and the ecosystem. Those who live in the region rely on these animals for food . These animals also help balance the ecosystem. However, for the past few years, the animals have faced threats causing their population to decline. In addition to researching ways to sustain caribou populations, the researchers will also train young scientists to continue with the conservation job. Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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Hermit crab study shows microplastic’s affect on marine life

October 15, 2021 by  
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A new study published in the journal  Royal Society Open Science  has found that microplastics affect the behavior of hermit crabs, a key part of the ocean ecosystem. The study, conducted by Queen’s University, highlights how microplastics impact hermit crabs’ growth and reproduction. In a press release, researchers explained the study’s methodology, saying, “The research involved keeping hermit crabs in two tanks: one which contained polyethylene spheres (a common microplastic pollutant ) and one without plastic (control) for five days. The team simulated the environment to encourage a hermit crab contest through placing pairs of hermit crabs in an arena, giving the larger crab a shell that was too small and the smaller crab a shell that was too big.” Related: Global warming driving mass migration of marine life Shell fights are crucial to the survival of hermit crabs. During shell fights, the crabs have to fight each other in contests over larger shells to occupy as their home. During their growth, crabs move from smaller shells and find new homes by fighting each other. According to the latest study, hermit crabs exposed to microplastics had impaired attacking and defending behavior. As a result, the researchers say that the crabs’ ability to grow and survive is weakened. Hermit crabs are vital to the entire ocean ecosystem. As scavengers, these tiny animals help recycle energy back into the ecosystem. They feed on decomposed sea life and bacteria , helping rebalance the ecosystem.  One of the lead researchers on the paper, Manus Cunningham from Queen’s University, said, “These findings are hugely significant as they illustrate how both the information-gathering and shell evaluations were impaired when exposed to microplastics.” According to Cunningham, there is not a significant amount of information available on how microplastics impact sea life . This is one of the first studies to show the exact threats microplastics pose for specific species. “Although 10% of global plastic production ends up in the ocean, there is very limited research on how this can disrupt animal behaviour and cognition. This study shows how the microplastic pollution crisis is threatening biodiversity more than is currently recognised,” said Cunningham. Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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Crayfish interbreeding causing the extinction of native species

October 12, 2021 by  
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In a new study conducted by Illinois Natural History Survey , scientists discovered by chance that the virile crayfish species , faxonius virilis, are interbreeding with native crayfish in the Current River in Missouri, leading to disruptions in the ecosystem. The study, published in the Journal Aquatic Invasions, also mentioned the species are going through biological inversion that may lead to the extinction of native species. Christopher Taylor, a curator of crustaceans at the Illinois Natural History Survey and coauthor of the study, found that the virile crayfish is one of the “widest-ranging native crayfish in North America .” Even though it is native to North America, the virile species is considered invasive in most parts of the U.S. It eventually dominates other species in every territory it is introduced. Related: Dramatic decline in population of Lake Tahoe’s tiniest creatures is changing the entire ecosystem Taylor conducted the study with other researchers including Professor Eric Larson of the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences department at the University of Illinois.“The Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas are just a great place to be a crayfish,” Larson said. “The streambeds are rocky so you can hide from fish predators, the water chemistry is good, there’s lots of calcium in the stream and there are a lot of groundwater springs that feed into the main river. That’s why there are so many native crayfish there.”The problem with crayfish interbreeding is that the hybrid species displace the native ones. This, in turn, reduces the production of native crayfish and cuts down their reproduction. Furthermore, the hybrid species consume large quantities of aquatic plants and other invertebrates. As a result, interbreeding ends up affecting the populations of other small fish and species in the ecosystem .“The spread and impacts of an invasive species could cause substantial harm to this unique ecosystem,” Larson said.The researchers found it was difficult to determine that the crayfish species were interbreeding since their offspring did not have unique physical appearances. It was only through mitochondrial DNA sampling that the researchers identified traces of the unique DNA within each other.“Initially, we were finding that some of the native spot-handed crayfish, faxonius punctimanus, had mitochondrial DNA sequences that were aligning with invasive virile crayfish,” said Zachary Rozansky, a graduate student who led the research. “We did not observe any differences in colors or patterns indicating they were hybrids . They looked like one or the other.” Via Newswise Lead image via Unsplash

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Earth has lost 14% of its coral reefs in less than a decade

October 7, 2021 by  
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A  new report  released by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network found that up to 14% of the world’s coral reefs have been depleted due to climate change between the years 2009 and 2018. In the period under review, mass coral bleaching events were experienced due to warming waters. The study is the largest done to review the status of corals across the world. It included observation of reefs in more than 70 countries over the past 40 years. The research found that the highly sensitive reefs were exposed to tough conditions due to climate change, including high temperatures and tsunamis. Tough weather patterns are said to have contributed to the depletion of the essential reefs. Related: Global warming driving mass migration of marine life The study estimates that the loss amounts to over 4,500 square miles of reefs lost in just nine years. This is more than all the living coral off the coast of Australia including the great barrier reef . The loss of corals is likely to continue since the world is on an upward warming trend, according to Paul Hardisty, head of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. “There are clearly unsettling trends toward coral loss, and we can expect these to continue as warming persists,” Hardisty said. “A clear message from the study is that climate change is the biggest threat to the world’s reefs, and we must all do our part by urgently curbing global greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating local pressures.” The value that coral reefs add to the ecosystem can never be overstated. Although they make up 0.2% of the ocean floor, they account for over 25% of the ocean system’s biodiversity . Coral reefs provide approximately $2.7 trillion in value per year, according to the report. Tourism contributes about $36 billion of this amount. With such a huge economic impact, coral reefs are just as important as other economic activities in the modern age. The good news is that, although coral reefs are vulnerable to climate change, they are still resilient. The report found that the reefs were facing the fight against warming waters. However, the researchers warn that the situation might soon change. With carbon emissions still on the rise, chances are the corals may not survive the high temperatures . Via HuffPost Photography by Tom Fisk

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Study finds more microplastic in baby poop than in adult

September 24, 2021 by  
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In a recent  study  published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science and Technology Letters, scientists found 10 times more microplastic in babies’ feces than in adults’. Researchers discovered this in a pilot study that involved sifting through infants’ used diapers. The researchers established that each gram of infant poop contains an average of 36,000 nanograms of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET is one of the most common polymers. Often called polyester in the clothing industry, it is also used in making plastic bottles. Previously, studies have indicated that plastic formula bottles shed off microplastics that children may swallow. A paper published last October in  Nature  revealed that plastic formula bottles could feed babies millions of microplastics per day, or almost a billion microplastics per year. Related: High PFAS levels associated with breastfeeding issues The surprising finding was that adults excrete fewer microplastics compared to babies. Researchers have several ideas as to why this might be the case. For instance, babies drink directly from plastic bottles. Secondly, babies put plenty of plastic products in their mouths, including toys and clothes.  In many cases, baby food is wrapped in single-use plastics that may also shed off a significant amount of microplastic. Besides clothing and feeding, babies also crawl on surfaces, some of which are made of polymers that shed microplastics. Kurunthachalam Kannan, an environmental health scientist at New York University School of Medicine and one of the study’s authors, said, “Unfortunately, with the modern lifestyle, babies are exposed to so many different things for which we don’t know what kind of effect they can have later in their life.” The researchers arrived at the results by collecting dirty diapers from six 1-year-olds and running the feces through filters to trap microplastics. They did the same with samples of a newborn’s first feces and still found some microplastics in the waste . For the adults, 10 stool samples were used and revealed that microplastic levels in adult feces were much lower than those in infants’ stool. These findings raise questions over the health threats children face. Although the health effects of microplastics aren’t fully understood yet, studies show that some of the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing are harmful to human health. A  study  done by researchers at ??ETH Zürich in Switzerland found that plastics contain over 10,000 chemicals, a quarter of which are potentially harmful. Via The Guardian and Wired Lead image via Pixabay

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What causes zombie plants?

September 21, 2021 by  
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Parasitic bacteria can teach us a lot, according to scientists who have just discovered a manipulation mechanism used by the bacteria to slow down plant aging. Their insights might lead to new ways to protect food crops from  disease . Some  plants  fall so far under the sway of parasites that they’re termed “zombies.” Instead of reproducing and living normal plant lives, they are reduced to being a host and habitat for parasitic pathogens. Researchers published their findings in Cell ,  detailing a manipulation molecule that phytoplasma bacteria produces. This protein molecule can hijack plant development, breaking down key growth regulators and triggering bizarre deviations in growth. For example, if you’ve ever seen the tight configuration of excess branches in trees called “witches’ brooms,” that’s an example of phytoplasma bacteria reprogramming its host plant. Related: The best plants for pollinators “Phytoplasmas are a spectacular example of how the reach of genes can extend beyond the organisms to impact surrounding environments,” said Saskia Hogenhout, one of the study’s authors, as reported by Newswise. “Our findings cast new light on a molecular mechanism behind this extended phenotype in a way that could help solve a major problem for  food  production. We highlight a promising strategy for engineering plants to achieve a level of durable resistance of crops to phytoplasmas.” The study found that SAP05, a bacterial  protein , disrupts a plant’s natural mechanism of breaking down proteins inside plant cells. With these proteins out of the picture, SAP05 can zombify the plant, forcing it to favor the bacteria over its healthy self. It triggers the growth of vegetative tissues and shoots and pauses the plant’s aging process. The researchers identified two amino acids in the plant which interact with SAP05. If they switch these amino acids with two found in insect protein instead, they can halt the abnormal growth. The study’s finding suggests that if  scientists  fiddle with these two amino acids in food crops, perhaps by using gene-editing techniques, they could overcome the zombifying effects of some parasitic bacteria. Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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The world is failing to limit global warming

September 16, 2021 by  
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A newly released assessment by Climate Action Tracker (CAT) shows that nearly every nation has failed to meet a major climate goal. The goal in question is to keep global warming from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as per the Paris Agreement. The report, released on Wednesday, showed only one country’s actions to be compatible with meeting this goal. According to the new CAT rating system, “Only one country – a developing country – The Gambia scored an overall 1.5 degree compatibility.” While every other country varies in how close it is to meeting this climate target, most had their actions deemed “highly or critically insufficient” by the report. CAT’s analysis reviewed policies in 36 countries, plus the European Union. Related: G7 leaders commit to curb climate change, but fall short on coal “Almost all developed countries need to further strengthen their targets to reduce emissions as fast as possible, to implement national policies to meet them, and to support more developing countries to make the transition,” the assessment explained. Behind The Gambia, there are only seven nations deemed “almost sufficient” by the report. These countries include Costa Rica , Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria and the U.K. On the opposite end of the rating system, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Thailand were all found to be “critically insufficient” in their attempts toward achieving 1.5 degree Celsius goal compatibility. While these findings are troubling for many environmentalists, German climate activist Luisa Neubauer emphasizes that “this study shouldn’t be a moment of pity.” Instead, Neubauer says, “the adequate answer to this study would be drastic climate action.” The CAT assessment details several areas of improvement needed to meet climate goals. Suggested improvements include scaling up renewable energy developments and canceling coal and pipeline construction projects. But change must come quickly. As the assessment points out, “The most important target date is 2030, by which time global emissions must be cut by 50%, and governments are nowhere near this. We estimate that with current actions global emissions will be at roughly today’s level in 2030, we would be emitting twice as much as required for the 1.5°C limit.” + Climate Action Tracker Via EcoWatch Images via Pixabay and Climate Action Tracker

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Climate change-induced tuna migration may wreck island economies

September 2, 2021 by  
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Ocean warming may cause small states in the Pacific Islands to struggle economically due to fish loss. A recent study published in the journal   Nature Sustainability  has found that tuna caught in 10 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will decline by an average of 20% by 2050. The study also found that all the 10 islands will be affected and may struggle economically as a result. As waters closer to the equator warm, tuna and other sea species move out in search of a favorable environment. According to Johann Bell, the lead author of the study and a senior director at  Conservation International’s Center for Oceans, fish can only live in conditions that suit their physiology. Related: Mysterious fish deaths in Mar Menor Spain prompt investigation “All fish have preferred water temperatures, i.e., temperatures that suit their physiology best and which provide optimum conditions for growth and reproduction,” Bell said. Conservation International’s Center for Oceans is a nonprofit organization that works to protect nature through science. The organization uses scientific data to show changes in nature and urge policymakers to make critical choices.  Bell explains that tuna follow other species favorable for prey. He says when the ocean warms, other species may move outward in search of cooler waters. Tuna have to follow such species, or they may fail to find food and experience stunted growth. The study looked at two key species of tuna: skipjack and yellowfin. These are the main target species for large-scale fishers in the Pacific Islands region. Researchers found that these species will progressively continue moving eastwards as the waters get warm . As a result, the species will only be available in high seas and regions outside the jurisdiction of SIDS. Most states in the Pacific Islands depend on fishing as a main economic activity. If the most popular fish species moves away from the area, locals will struggle economically.  For a long time, scientists have warned that the effects of global warming will be more economically costly than any amount invested in combating climate change. The tuna conundrum is just one example of how this issue manifests. Via EcoWatch Lead image via Pexels

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The most Instagrammable vegan beauty products on the market

September 1, 2021 by  
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The benefits of personal care and caring for the planet often overlap — drinking water instead of manufactured beverages, buying clothing made from  natural fibers  and using clean, cruelty-free beauty products. In fact, the vegan cosmetic market is exploding as more and more consumers choose to do the right thing for their bodies and the planet.  With this in mind, End of Tenancy London set out to get into the minds of beauty consumers through Instagram. Starting with a list of 23 popular vegan beauty brands, the team created a chart of the ‘Most Instagrammable’ options based on the number of people Insta-posting. Related: I-N Beauty relies on science and plants for hair and skincare solutions Results include brands from around the world that specialize in everything from makeup application brushes to men’s products, to full skin, hair and nail product lines. NCLA Beauty Los Angeles-based beauty brand NCLA topped the list with 173,601 Instagram hashtags. The cruelty-free lip, nail, body and hand products have won a host of awards and are widely available at retail and online locations. Shop NCLA Beauty on Amazon Le Labo With 147,219 hashtags on the social media platform, Le Labo takes the second-place spot. The fragrance brand is more than small batch — it’s personalized batch. Once you select your scent, a freshly-blended bottle will be produced by hand with the option to add a personalized label or even engrave the travel tube case. Shop Le Labo on Amazon Arbonne It’s an industry icon. Arbonne has served the vegan community for 35 years, always refusing to test on  animals . This is notable with consumers, resulting in 113,095 Instagram hashtags. As a Certified B Corporation, Arbonne is dedicated to continual improvement in the effort for minimal environmental impact. It’s been a carbon-neutral company since 2017, and both the corporate headquarters and distribution center went zero-waste the same year. It’s working on installing renewable energy systems at every location and has plans to be a zero-waste corporation worldwide by 2025.  Shop Arbonne on Amazon Sparitual In fourth place, Sparitual garnered 83,087 mentions. With a high value on clean ingredients, Sparitual caters to the self-care consumer interested in investing in the ‘slow life’. It also supplies products to spas, like the Nourishing Vegan Nail Colors that skip the harmful chemicals . Similarly, its organic body care products are free from parabens, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrances and dyes, GMOs and gluten. Shop Sparitual on Amazon Pacifica The fifth-place position goes to Pacifica , another California brand, with 60,170 Instagram hashtags. In addition to being 100% vegan and cruelty-free, Pacifica skincare, suncare, makeup, nail care, hair care, bath, body and fragrance products offer a chance to recycle packaging with a program that gives  plastic  a new life as razors and toothbrushes. Shop Pacifica on Amazon Spectrum Collections Number six on the list, Spectrum Collections offers makeup and accessories from its location in South Wales, U.K. The products were mentioned 34,622 times on Instagram. Spectrum’s mission is to provide planet-friendly delivery through low-impact packaging. All products are vegan and cruelty-free. skyn ICELAND Skyn ICELAND ticked 21,311 Insta-mentions for its clean, vegan and cruelty-free products. The company offers eye care, skin masks, moisturizers, face wash and more. Ingredients are sourced throughout Iceland, drawing from botanicals and  pollution -free Icelandic glacial water. Shop skyn ICELAND on Amazon Dr. Botanicals Dr. Botanicals took the number eight spot with 11,163 hashtags, serving customers effective and vegan natural skincare. Based out of London, the brand is proud to support the LBGTQ community and places importance on empowerment and diversity. It’s on a mission to be a zero-carbon company by 2025 and to convert to 100%  recycled  products in its packaging by 2023. Shop Dr. Botanicals on Amazon Billy Jealousy The ninth most popular vegan beauty brand on Instagram was Billy Jealousy , with 10,839 mentions. This men’s grooming line is vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved, made in America and uses natural ingredients. Shop Billy Jealousy on Amazon Nanshy With 9,326 tags, Nanshy moved into the tenth-place spot. The company’s makeup brushes and storage accessories are cruelty-free and budget-friendly. Honorable mentions The other 13 brands reviewed in the study were EcoTools, Earth Mama Angel Baby, 7th Heaven, Sibu Beauty, Alchimie Forever, Hugo Naturals, MuLondon Organic, Nature’s Gate, ColorProof Evolved Color Care, The Fanciful Fox, Body Crystal of California, Beauty Without Cruelty and Per-fékt Beauty. Methodology In researching this topic, the team sourced the 23 companies from a PETA-vetted list of vegan and cruelty-free suppliers. Each brand was then hand-entered into Instagram, and the corresponding hashtags were recorded. The team says, “Search variations like #arbonnemakeup, #pacificabeauty and #ecotoolsbrush were used, in order to obtain accurate data.” Two brands on the original list had no Instagram hashtag information to record. All data collection took place on August 4, 2021, and represents the numbers at that time. + End of Tenancy London + PETA Images via Pexels When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commissions at no cost to you.

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The most Instagrammable vegan beauty products on the market

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