European Commission - Statement Brussels, 24 April 2018 It is with shock and sorrow that I learnt of the tragic attack in Toronto on Monday afternoon. I send my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, as well as to Prime Minister Trudeau and...
European Commission - Fact Sheet Brussels, 21 April 2018 On 21 April 2018 the European Union and Mexico reached a deal on a new trade agreement. It will be part of a broader, modernised EU-Mexico Global Agreement and will deepen and broaden the scope of an existing trade agreement signed...
European Commission - Press release Brussels, 21 April 2018 The European Union and Mexico today reached a new agreement on trade, part of a broader, modernised EU-Mexico Global Agreement. Practically all trade in goods between the EU and Mexico will now be duty-free, including in the agricultural sector.
Effective flood-risk management requires accurate risk-analysis models. Conventional analysis approaches, however, are based on the evaluation of spatially homogenous scenarios, which do not account for variation in flooding across a river reach/ region. Since flood events are often spatially heterogeneous (i.e. unevenly distributed), this paves the way for error. Now, scientists have developed a novel framework for risk analysis that accounts for their heterogeneity, and successfully demonstrated the accuracy of the approach by applying it in a proof-of-concept exercise in Vorarlberg, Austria. By facilitating improved prediction and quantification of flood events, this model is likely to inform future flood-risk management and related decision-making.
Plastic waste in the environment presents cause for concern, but scientific understanding of its exact impacts is still in its infancy. A team of Dutch scientists has presented recommendations on how to develop a new assessment method which provides clear, specific evidence on the risks of plastic waste. Once developed, this method could inform scientifically sound policies for managing plastic waste.
Radiation processing may be faster, cleaner and more efficient at removing pollutants from drinking and waste water than conventional techniques
The presence of organic pollutants in waste water and drinking water can have alarming environmental and public health implications. Current water treatment methods have limitations: they can only remove certain contaminants, to certain extents, and also produce harmful by-products. New and improved methods are required. A recent review paper presents radiation processing as a promising approach, providing strong evidence of its efficacy, efficiency, safety, and feasibility. Focusing particularly on the use of electron-beam processing for the removal of organic pollutants from waste water and drinking water, the researchers present a compelling picture, relevant to stakeholders involved in water treatment and management.
The application to crops of struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate) recovered from waste water may cause antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) present in this fertiliser to enter the food chain. Chinese researchers who conducted this study on Brassica plants suggest that ARGs in struvite pass from the soil into the roots of the plant, and from the roots to the leaves, via the bacterial community already present. The results of this research highlight the need for struvite production methods and agricultural practices that minimise the risk of antibiotic-resistance transmission from struvite to humans or animals via the environment.
European Commission - Press release Strasbourg, 18 April 2018 The Commission today presented the outcome of negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan and the trade and investment agreements with Singapore to the Council. This is the first step towards the signature and conclusion of these agreements.
European Commission - Fact Sheet Strasbourg, 18 April 2018 The negotiations for the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement were launched in 2013. This Economic Partnership Agreement will boost trade in goods and services as well as create opportunities for investment.
European Commission - Statement Brussels, 14 April 2018 Last night, France, the United Kingdom and the United States responded in a coordinated military action to the heinous chemical weapons attack carried out by the Syrian regime against civilians in Douma on 7 April.
Commissioners Bulc and Arias Cañete welcome the IMO agreement on CO2 reductions in the maritime sector
European Commission - Statement Brussels, 13 April 2018 Following the agreement reached today at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on an initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping, Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc and Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete issued the following...
It is important to understand the extent to which atmospheric (air) pollution damages plants (i.e. its phytotoxicity) as well as the wider ecosystem (i.e. its ecotoxicity). For this reason, researchers have adapted the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Vegetative Vigour Test1 for the assessment of the ecotoxicity of samples of aerosol (suspensions of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in air). Typically, the test involves spraying the trial liquid on above-ground portions of the plant, such as the leaves. The adapted protocol involves extracting water-soluble aerosol compounds from aerosol samples to spray on the plant. The new protocol is sensitive enough to determine phytotoxicity and establish a clear cause–effect relationship, and as such has the potential to serve as a useful tool for the assessment of the effects of air pollution on environmental and human health.
Potential contamination of copper oxide nanoparticles and possible consequences on urban agriculture
Researchers have assessed the phyto-toxic effects of copper nanoparticles on vegetables grown within urban gardens, comparing increasing doses of these nanoparticles to simulate potential aerial deposition to extreme pollution of CuO-NP in a range of increasing exposure periods. Lettuce and cabbage absorbed high amounts of copper nanoparticles, after 15 days of exposure, which interfered with photosynthesis, respiration and also reduced growth. Under the specific exposure conditions of the study the researchers indicate that metal nanoparticles could lead to potential health risks to humans from the contamination of crops from pollution.
A team of Italian scientists has published a study highlighting the important role of intersectoral linkages and eco-innovations in shaping industry’s environmental performance (a measure of its ability to meet environmental targets and objectives) across Europe. The research indicates that eco-innovation can produce positive effects, both directly (in the sector where it is developed) and indirectly (in linked sectors at home and abroad). These insights are relevant to corporate and policy governance strategies aimed at maximising the environmental and economic potential of novel green technologies.
A new study has assessed the vulnerability of 571 European cities to heatwaves, droughts and flooding caused by climate change. The causes of vulnerability differ across Europe and the researchers say the results could be used to design policies to mitigate the impacts.
Relative environmental impact of nanosilver in products may be marginal compared with impacts of other components
A new study has analysed the environmental impact of 15 products containing nanosilver, highlighting the contribution of this novel material to the items’ overall environmental burden. The findings show that nanosilver impacts, such as fossil fuel depletion and human-health impacts, are relative to content, and can be marginal when considered in the context of the product’s other materials. Based on their results, the researchers recommend considering the overall impacts and benefits of nano-enabled products in evaluation and environmental guidance on their development.
A new study has, for the first time, estimated total anthropogenic releases of mercury over the last 4 000 years, up to 2010. Overall, the study estimates that a total of 1 540 000 tonnes of mercury have been released; three-quarters of this since 1850, and 78 times more than was released through natural causes over this period. Therefore, human activity has been responsible for a significant level of contamination, and this inventory can be used to inform and assess mitigation measures. The publication coincides with the ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and the new EU Mercury Regulation1, which prohibits the export, import and manufacturing of mercury-added products, among other measures.
Researchers have shown that emissions from vehicles can react with emissions from urban trees and other plants, resulting in a decrease in air quality in cities in summer; this reduces the otherwise positive impacts of urban vegetation. The study, conducted in Berlin, showed that during a July heatwave, 20% of ozone concentrations were due to emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from vegetation interacting with other pollutants. To reduce this effect, lowering emissions of these other pollutants is crucial.
Evaluating the level of danger to human health from exposure to multiple chemicals in contaminated sites is a complex task. To address this difficulty, researchers have developed a new screening tool that can be incorporated into public health risk assessment, which may include polluted former industrial plants, waste dumps, or even land where pesticides have been used. This ‘hazard index’ approach indicates when risk to health is high, which organs are most affected, and where further evaluation should be conducted in the context of environmental or occupational exposure at such sites.
Although nanomaterials are already in widespread use, their risk to the environment is not completely understood. Researchers in the US have developed a next-generation risk-assessment model to better understand nanomaterials’ environmental impact. Applied to the San Francisco Bay area, the model predicted that even soluble nanomaterials could accumulate at toxic levels.