Erica Cirino

oil refinery

Plastic's toxic reach in Louisiana

Tracing the destructive path of plastic in the most notoriously toxic region of America's petrochemical landscape.

Communities throughout St. James, St. John the Baptist, and Louisiana's other "River Parishes"—those located along the Mississippi between New Orleans and Baton Rouge—shoulder some of the worst impacts of industry in the U.S.

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‘Fingerprinting’ the ocean to predict devastating sea level rise.

SCIENTISTS ARE “FINGERPRINTING” sea level rise around the world in an effort to identify coastal areas most at risk from devastating storm surge, as hurricanes grow increasingly destructive.

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More plastic in the world means more plastic in osprey nests.

When Ben Wurst began working with Ospreys in 2004, he noticed an unusual element in their nests: plastic. Since then, it’s become something of an obsession for him. Now, as an Osprey expert at the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, Wurst spends much of his time responding to reports of Osprey nests laced with trash and climbing ladders to remove the manmade materials. But after years of this work, he has noticed a troubling trend: Osprey nests are filled with more dangerous plastic garbage than ever before.

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Sewage rehab.
Bill Gillette/Wikimedia

Sewage rehab.

Compounds that mimic or disrupt human hormones are showing up in freshwater ecosystems worldwide. This widespread pollution is causing the feminization of fish and amphibians, as well as the disruption of natural freshwater microbial communities. It’s even making fish anxious. For people, living near to such polluted waterways is associated with an elevated risk of some cancers. The presence of hormones and hormone disruptors is not a new problem, but it’s one that waste treatment experts have been struggling to solve. These compounds sneak through many conventional wastewater treatment systems. But they don’t have to.

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Today, even US water is overly medicated—these scientists want to change that.
Alex Dodd/flickr

Today, even US water is overly medicated—these scientists want to change that.

Sylvia Lee, PhD, is a scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Milbrook, New York. She has access to an unusual—yet essential—set of laboratory equipment: a whole greenhouse filled with white fiberglass bathtubs. There’s no mistaking these vessels with those you’d find in the average bathroom, however. While these bathtubs are about the same length, they’re shallower, narrower, and have a raised racetrack-like interior that water circulates around. And none of the lab members spend time inside them.

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Vertical underwater farming can restore the seas.

Bren Smith’s award-winning 3D ocean farms can produce 30 tonnes of sea vegetables and 250,000 shellfish in an acre every five months - and boost biodiversity

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Toxic-triggered anxiety.

When you plunk an adult zebrafish into an unfamiliar tank, it will behave predictably: the small, striped, freshwater minnow freezes for up to a minute, slowly begins to explore the tank, and then, when it’s good and ready, swims around as if it’s been there the whole time. The zebrafish’s literal test of the waters is a survival instinct that directs the fish to proceed with caution.

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Sea unworthy: A personal journey into the Pacific garbage patch.

More plastic in the oceans, found at greater depths than thought, would mean a bigger threat to environmental—and possibly human—health

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From our Newsroom
fast food PFAS

Burgers and fries with a side of PFAS

New testing finds evidence of “forever chemicals” in fast-food packaging from popular spots like McDonald’s, Starbucks and KFC.

environmental justice

Agents of Change in Environmental Justice program accepting applications

Do you find that public voices in science are lacking diversity and want to help create change? We want to hear from you.

environmental justice

LISTEN: How Western media could better cover climate change in the Middle East

“The whole media of the Western countries don’t do justice to some of the works being done here.”

BPA exposure health

Everyone is likely overexposed to BPA

If you're using plastic, you're likely above acceptable health safety levels.

BADGE BPA chemical

BPA's evil cousin

An ongoing series examining BADGE — an unregulated danger in epoxy resins.

sustainable coffee

Opinion: The global food system is failing small-scale farmers — here’s how to fix it

Maybe we don’t need Jamaican coffee in the middle of US winter.