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Articles from Science for Environment Policy

13.01.2014
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Articles from Science for Environment Policy

A service from the European Commission...

Mediterranean ozone levels fall in rural areas, but rise in cities
Air pollution legislation has led to reduced ozone pollution in rural areas in western Mediterranean countries; however, levels in urban and suburban areas are still increasing, new research concludes. This suggests that ground-level ozone, linked to human health issues as well as environmental damage, has the potential to become a more significant air quality issue than previously believed, the researchers say.
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Industrial pollutant melted European glaciers
Industrial emissions of black carbon were responsible for the retreat of the glaciers in the European Alps that marked the end of the so-called 'Little Ice Age', according to a new study. The researchers explain how black carbon deposits could have caused glaciers to melt more rapidly from the mid-19th century and suggest that human activities were already having a visible influence on the climate before the effects of carbon dioxide were evident.
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Air quality in Europe: pollution levels have dropped, but health concerns remain
Some progress has been made towards improving air quality in Europe with levels of sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and benzene all falling substantially in recent years, a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) concludes. However, threats to human health and ecosystems remain, and urban citizens' exposure to high levels of particulate matter (PM) and ozone are a particular concern.
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Should critical levels of plant ozone exposure be lower?
'Critical levels' of ozone exposure for plants, above which significant adverse effects may occur, are currently calculated by examining ozone's impacts on only a small number of species. However, researchers have now compared this measure with a new approach which examines all species in a group, and defines the critical levels as the concentration at which 5% of species are affected. These critical levels, which may be more suitable for semi-natural ecosystems, are stricter than current standards.
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Plastic litter in the marine environment: key issues and possible solutions
International agreements to reduce plastic use are needed to address plastic litter in the marine environment, as well as increased public awareness of the problem, according to scientists at a workshop on the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive held in Italy in 2013. The issues discussed at the workshop have been summarised in a recent research paper.
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Fracking research needs to consider the bigger picture
Studies on fracking too often focus on its technical aspects, and not the wider environmental, economic and regulatory context needed for political decision-making, according to a review of existing research by a US researcher. The review provides a framework for understanding these complex issues that could benefit the fracking debate and decision-making about fracking more widely.
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