Pharmaceutical waste Environment 

Pharmaceutical Waste Damages Aquatic Ecosystems

By Shayna Keyles, @shaynakeyles In a society where nearly 70 percent take at least one prescription drug and the pharmaceutical and biochemical industries spend billions of dollars each year to create new products, it is no surprise that a large amount of pharmaceutical wastewater is produced each year. But what happens to this waste, and what impact does it have on our environment? In early 2014, researchers with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) surveyed 59 headstreams in the US Piedmont ecoregion to answer just those questions. These streams were…

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This image shows the surface oil slick from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Research, including this latest study, has identified which bacteria were most important in breaking down the oil. Andreas Teske, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Biology Environment 

Oil Spill Cleanup Secrets of Gulf Coast Bacteria

By Shayna Keyles @shaynakeyles Bacteria have played a large role in cleaning up the Gulf Coast after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, but it is just now becoming clear how helpful these microbes have been. Microbiologists sequenced DNA from native Gulf bacteria and discovered genetic properties that make some of these microbes so well suited to the job of cleaning up oil. The Smallest (and Largest) Clean-Up Crew Scientists noted the proliferation of native bacteria just weeks after the rig explosion began to leak 4.1 million barrels of…

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A stranded humpback whale carcass in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Humpback whales were among the Alaska marine mammals that showed exposure to algal toxins, according to new research. Photo credit: Kathy Burek-Huntington, Alaska Veterinary and Pathology Services. Animals Biology Environment 

Algal Toxins Found in Alaskan Marine Mammals

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore Harmful algal blooms produce toxins that can be deadly to marine mammals. In the US, such toxins—unheard of 20 years ago—have caused almost half of all unusual marine mammal deaths in the last two decades, particularly among California sea lions. Now, for the first time scientists have discovered algal toxins farther north in Alaskan marine mammals; the mammals’ health can be jeopardized by these toxins. “What really surprised us was finding these toxins so widespread in Alaska, far north of where they have been previously documented…

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