They mapped the thousand places in America where you’re breathing poison

industry

The Trump administration in the USA cut funding for their Environmental Protection Agency which led to an increase in pollution that harms people and nature. The pollution problem isn’t all thanks to Trump though, it comes from years of negligence around policies and procedures to protect communities from dangerous industrial waste. For example, in the early 2000s the Bush administration stopped a few NASA efforts to observe greenhouse gas emissions in the nation.

Despite government inaction, ProPublica decided to map out the most poisoned places in the States. Why is this on a good news site? If we don’t look at where the emission are coming, and what the combined impact is of those emissions then we won’t be able to adequately fight climate change. Knowledge is power.

At the map’s intimate scale, it’s possible to see up close how a massive chemical plant near a high school in Port Neches, Texas, laces the air with benzene, an aromatic gas that can cause leukemia. Or how a manufacturing facility in New Castle, Delaware, for years blanketed a day care playground with ethylene oxide, a highly toxic chemical that can lead to lymphoma and breast cancer. Our analysis found that ethylene oxide is the biggest contributor to excess industrial cancer risk from air pollutants nationwide. Corporations across the United States, but especially in Texas and Louisiana, manufacture the colorless, odorless gas, which lingers in the air for months and is highly mutagenic, meaning it can alter DNA.

In all, ProPublica identified more than a thousand hot spots of cancer-causing air. They are not equally distributed across the country. A quarter of the 20 hot spots with the highest levels of excess risk are in Texas, and almost all of them are in Southern states known for having weaker environmental regulations. Census tracts where the majority of residents are people of color experience about 40% more cancer-causing industrial air pollution on average than tracts where the residents are mostly white. In predominantly Black census tracts, the estimated cancer risk from toxic air pollution is more than double that of majority-white tracts.

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Thanks to Tom Scott for the title!

Plastics are Toxic in Canada

The advertising around plastics highlights how recyclable it is, but in reality plastics are a pollutant that barely get recycled in a meaningful way (this is why the 3Rs are in a particular order: reduce, reuse, recycle). Plastics come in all sorts of densities, colours, and strength, but are traditionally made using petroleum. The source of most plastics is unsustainable and the waste generated by plastics after use is equally unsustainable. In fact, the waste produced by plastics has led Canada to categorize plastics as toxic!

By declaring plastics toxic more rules and regulations will need to be followed to ensure that the damage done to the plant (and people) are limited.

A 2020 government science assessment found ample evidence that plastic harms the environment, choking seabirds, cetaceans and other wildlife. The findings form the basis of the government’s decision, as substances can be considered toxic under CEPA if they harm the environment and biodiversity, human health, or both.

In October 2020, ECCC released a proposal to deal with the problem. Under the proposed rules, Canada will ban six single-use plastic items, like straws and six-pack rings, create incentives for companies to use recycled plastic, and force plastic producers to pay for recycling.

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Plant Based Diets Reduce Mortality, Increase Environmental Wellbeing

Phramacy

Obviously, a diet change to consume less meat is good for animal mortality but what you might not know is that a mass shift to plant based diet is good for everyone’s health. New research has identified that the pollution caused by meat production is responsible premature death of over 17,000 in the USA alone. Therefore, the more people who reduce their meat consumption the less harm will be done to people. Perhaps it’s time to cut subsidies to pollution intensive farms as we aim to reduce pollution and carbon output.

Yes, this is a global problem which requires systemic changes; however, you can do something about by simply switching your beef patties for any plant based ones.

The researchers estimated air quality deaths related to 95 different agricultural commodities in the United States, using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Subsequently, they estimated the per-unit annual impact of 67 products from 11 food groups. Products ranged from beef to beans.

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Britain Bans Fossil Fuel Cars Starting in 2030

The United Kingdom is taking a step towards a green future by announcing that diesel and gas powered cars won’t be allowed in the country starting in 2030. Older cars will still be allowed, but three will be a ban on any new cars sales that aren’t friendlier to the environment. With any luck, the “need” for cars throughout the country will decrease due to increase transit and better urban design,

Let’s hope that more countries follow the lead of the UK and ban theses pollution machines!

“Now is the time to plan for a green recovery with high-skilled jobs that give people the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to make the country cleaner, greener and more beautiful,” Johnson said in a column published in the Financial Times on Tuesday.

Britain last year became the first G7 country to set in law a net zero emission target by 2050, which will require wholesale changes in the way Britons travel, use energy and eat.

The new date for a ban on new petrol and diesel cars is five years earlier than the 2035 pledge made by Johnson in February.

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Thanks to Dan!

Trees are Great for Cities

Cleaning the air and keeping areas cool are what trees do best. A new study has looked into how best to use trees from a purely utilitarian standpoint. Essentially they drilled down to what trees do best and where they can thrive. The researchers cataloged the best places to plant trees based on factors like removing particulate matter from the air and where they can have the greatest impact on local temperatures. As a result their research outlines the most efficient use of money when deciding where to plant more trees.

As always, the best time to plant a tree is today.

There is one catch, though: The tree-planting campaign has to be well-targeted. And that gets a bit complex.

Trees only improve air quality in their immediate vicinity, about 100 feet or so. That means cities need to figure out which neighborhoods benefit most from new trees (typically the densest areas, but also areas around hospitals and schools). They also have to plant species that are most effective at trapping pollution (typically those with large leaves).

Officials also need to account for things like wind patterns and tree spacing and figure out whether they’ll be able to maintain their trees. Plus, if water is scarce, they’ll want to consider drought-tolerant varieties. And they may want to steer clear of trees that increase pollen and allergies.

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