Environment Current Affairs 2017

Scientists discover 1970s banned chemicals in deep ocean fauna

Scientists for the first time have found high levels of human-made pollutants, including chemicals that were banned in the 1970s, in the tissues of marine creatures dwelling in the deepest oceans of the Earth.

These chemicals were discovered after sampling amphipods from the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana and Kermadec trenches, which are over 10 km deep and 7,000 km apart.

Key Facts
  • Researchers found presence of extremely high levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the organism’s fatty tissue.
  • These POPs include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are commonly used as electrical insulators and flame retardants.
  • These banned pollutants are invulnerable to natural degradation and persist in the environment for decades. They may have been released into the environment through industrial accidents.
  • Researchers claim that these pollutants may have found their way to deep trenches through contaminated plastic debris and dead animals sinking to bottom of ocean, where they were consumed by amphipods and other fauna.
  • These sampled amphipods contained levels of contamination similar to that found in Suruga Bay, one of the most polluted industrial zones of the north-west Pacific.
  • Thus, this research shows that the remote and pristine oceanic realm which was earlier considered safe from human impact is actually not.

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India’s air pollution is world’s deadliest compared to China: Study

According to a new study of global air pollution India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is now surpassing China’s as the deadliest in the world.

The report was issued jointly by Health Effects Institute, a Boston research institute focused on the health effects of air pollution, and Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle based population health research centre.

Key Highlights of report
  • The number of premature deaths in China caused by dangerous air particles PM2.5, has stabilised globally in recent years but has risen sharply in India.
  • About 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year in India which has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50% in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015 period.
  • Global Scenario: The air pollution in recent times has worsened in parts of the world, including South Asia, but it improved in the United States and Europe.
  • US and Europe: Environmental regulations in US and actions taken by European Commission have led to substantial progress in reducing fine particulate matter (PM) pollution from industrialisation since 1990.
  • US has experienced a reduction of about 27% in the average annual exposure to fine PM and there has been smaller declines in Europe. that reduced emissions from industrialisation
  • China: Premature deaths from particulate matter in China each year have stabilised at around 1.1 million since 2005. But still it is an increase of 17% since 1990, when it was a little more than 9,45,000.

Particulate Matter

Particulate Matters are fine particles, less than fraction of the width of a human hair. These particles are released from vehicles, particularly those with diesel engines, industry, as well as from natural sources like dust. They enter the bloodstream through the lungs, increasing the risk of stroke, heart failure and worsening cardiac disease, in addition also causing severe respiratory problems, like pneumonia and asthma.

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