Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced Tuesday her intent to file legislation that potentially would allow for the elimination of fossil fuels in new construction or major renovations, following in the footsteps of regulations in New York City, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The city’s pursuit of such building standards follows Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, R, signing a major climate bill last week. The state law establishes a pilot program that will allow 10 municipalities to create local policies restricting the use of fossil fuels in new construction projects. Those policies intend to spur the adoption of cleaner technologies to power buildings, such as electric heat pumps. - Smart Cities Dive
Studies find microplastics in human lungs, blood stream; scientists investigating possible health risks
Scientists from the Netherlands and the U.K. recently identified microplastics deep in the lungs of some surgical patients and in the blood of anonymous donors. Researchers say that it's possible to take in these particles through the air we breathe. Leigh Shemitz, president of SoundWaters, and Paul Anastas, director of the Center for Green Chemistry at Yale University, join CBS News' Lana Zak to discuss microplastics' impact on humans and what can be done to mitigate plastic pollution. - CBS News
If the United States switched completely to cleaner energy vehicles and power plants, it would not only benefit the environment but also save an estimated 110,000 lives and $1.2 trillion in health costs over the next 30 years, the American Lung Association says in a new report. “These numbers are enormous," said Will Barrett, the national senior director of advocacy, clean air, for the American Lung Association. "It's hard to wrap your head around. $1.2 trillion in public health benefits and 100,000 lives saved." - ABC News
The United States has a PFAS problem. Whether they are raining down from the sky or popping up in food packaging, the mysterious chemicals, also known as Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances have been finding their way into our bodies and environment—sometimes at concerningly high levels. PFAS are also found in everyday cosmetics, especially in longwear and waterproof makeup items and can accidentally be ingested overtime. PFAS can even be found in our drinking water. PFAS are not only dangerous because they build up in the environment and in our bodies, but the chemicals are often associated with low infant birth rates and even cancer according to the EPA. In the past year, some research has connected high rates of PFAS exposure to worse COVID outcomes. Despite being such harmful toxins to people, they’re used regularly and are not historically regulated in the U.S. To tackle this dilemma, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a “Comprehensive National Strategy” to regulate the toxic industrial chemical. The plan describes three main strategies going forward–investing in more research on PFAS, leveraging authorities that can take action to restrict more PFAS chemicals from being released, and accelerating PFAS contamination cleanups. EPA administrator Michael S. Regan pointed out that the agency will work on holding polluters accountable in the announcement. - Popular Science
WHENEVER A PLASTIC bag or bottle degrades, it breaks into ever smaller pieces that work their way into nooks in the environment. When you wash synthetic fabrics, tiny plastic fibers break loose and flow out to sea. When you drive, plastic bits fly off your tires and brakes. That’s why literally everywhere scientists look, they’re finding microplastics—specks of synthetic material that measure less than 5 millimeters long. They’re on the most remote mountaintops and in the deepest oceans. They’re blowing vast distances in the wind to sully once pristine regions like the Arctic. In 11 protected areas in the western US, the equivalent of 120 million ground-up plastic bottles are falling out of the sky each year. And now, microplastics are coming out of babies. In a pilot study published today, scientists describe sifting through infants’ dirty diapers and finding an average of 36,000 nanograms of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) per gram of feces, 10 times the amount they found in adult feces. They even found it in newborns' first feces. PET is an extremely common polymer that’s known as polyester when it’s used in clothing, and it is also used to make plastic bottles. The finding comes a year after another team of researchers calculated that preparing hot formula in plastic bottles severely erodes the material, which could dose babies with several million microplastic particles a day, and perhaps nearly a billion a year. - Wired
President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan proposes to spend $16 billion plugging old oil and gas wells and cleaning up abandoned mines. But there’s no authoritative measure of how many of these sites exist across the nation. In a recent study, my colleagues and I sought to account for every oil and gas well site in the lower 48 states that was eligible for restoration—meaning that the well no longer was producing oil or gas, and there were no other active wells using that site. We found more than 430,000 old well sites, with associated infrastructure such as access roads, storage areas, and fluid tanks. They covered more than 2 million acres—an area larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. - Fast Company
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