Category Archives: Environment

These chemicals are bad for babies and whales: Why haven’t they been banned in Canada?

Canadian regulators are all over the map with respect to flame retardants. On PBDEs, Canada infamously refused to take meaningful regulatory action. The government found most PBDEs to be toxic substances in 2006, but it declined to ban or restrict them in consumer products in 2008 or in 2016.

Moving the Circular Economy Beyond Alchemy

This review of a special issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology titled, “Exploring the Circular Economy” is a virtual tour of circular economy definitions and current directions. The authors discuss and derive new definitions of “circularity.” They cover fundamental determinants of material lifespan, such as economic demand, thermodynamics, product design, and durability.

Urban noise pollution is worst in poor and minority neighborhoods and segregated cities

Neighborhoods with median annual incomes below US$25,000 were nearly 2 decibels louder than neighborhoods with incomes above $100,000 per year. And nationwide, communities with 75 percent black residents had median nighttime noise levels of 46.3 decibels – 4 decibels louder than communities with no black residents. A 10-decibel increase represents a doubling in loudness of a sound, so these are big differences.

Benzene, PCBs, and industrial chemistry: A narrative bibliography

How the Benzene Tree Polluted the World in The Atlantic by Rebecca Altman, is a narrative exploration of the rise of organic chemistry, and the industrialization of the branch of chemistry based on the benzene ring. The piece focuses on the geopolitical forces shaping the production and global distribution of PCBs, a class of industrial chemicals that, though […]
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Virtual Waste: Flowing from a data center near you

Thinking with virtual data demonstrates that reduction of material waste alone does not mean a reduction of an overall environmental footprint on this planet.

Review of Richard S. Newman’s “Love Canal: A Toxic History from Colonial Times to the Present”

Newman’s activists press for environmental change imbedded with critiques of capitalism and industrialization, racial injustice, and its global implications. This view distorts the complexity of historical events within the environmental movement.

Toxins or Toxicants? Why the difference matters

When we accidentally call toxicants “toxins,” we are also accidentally naturalizing industrially-produced chemicals and their politics.

Pollution is Colonialism

Colonialism in Canada is an ongoing structure whereby settler society and government assert sovereignty over lands already occupied by Indigenous peoples.

The forgotten story of how a toxic spill and a book launched Britain’s environmental movement

When in 1963 some farm animals in the parish of Smarden in Kent became sick and died, suspicions fell on a nearby pesticide factory run by a division of Rentokil Laboratories. The events that followed amounted to one of the first environmental scandals in contemporary British history – one that would galvanise the environmental movement.

How we discovered pollution-poisoned crustaceans in the Mariana Trench

A trench amphipod, Hirondellea gigas, from the deepest place on Earth: Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench (10,890m). Alan Jamieson, Newcastle University, Author provided Alan Jamieson, Newcastle University Even animals from the deepest places on Earth have accumulated pollutants made by humans. That’s the unfortunate finding of a new study by myself with colleagues from […]
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