Pollution

A hazy smoke over Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning, where air quality reached very unhealthy levels, with increased risk of health effects for all groups.

Canadian Wildfires Send Harmful Smoke Across Eastern United States

At least 20 states were air quality alerts this week, and in some places, air quality reached unhealthy levels for all groups

Cleanup crews pressure-wash crude oil off the shoreline after the Exxon Valdez spilled more than ten million gallons into Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists began taking annual photos the following year to document the intertidal zone’s recovery.

Why Have Alaskans Been Photographing This Volkswagen Beetle-Sized Boulder for 33 Years?

A scientist began taking shots after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and volunteers have since taken over

Turkish world-record-holding free-diver Sahika Ercumen swims amid plastic waste on June 27, 2020, to raise awareness about plastic pollution.

Scientists Discover Microbes That Could Revolutionize Plastic Recycling

These bacteria and fungi can break down certain plastics at cool temperatures, saving money and energy compared to some current methods

The three-foot-long fiberglass mermaid sold for $300 at auction.

Who Wants to Buy the Creepy Dolls and Bowling Balls That Wash Up on Texas Beaches?

Hundreds of eclectic items were auctioned off to help fund the rehabilitation of sea turtles and birds

At the time it was signed, the Montreal Protocol was seen as a good thing for the planet. A new study shows it was even better than anyone first realized.

By Fighting the Ozone Hole, We Helped Curb Climate Change

With the Montreal Protocol, life on Earth dodged a bullet we didn’t even know was headed our way

North Carolina's Camp Lejeune in 2017. From 1953 to 1987, the drinking water at the base was contaminated with a number of chemicals.

Common Chemical Strongly Linked to Parkinson's

Service members stationed at Camp Lejeune, where water was contaminated, had a 70 percent greater risk of developing the movement disorder, new study finds

Paris is working on an ambitious project to clean the Seine river for use during swimming events in the 2024 Summer Olympics.

For the First Time in a Century, Paris Is Making the Seine Swimmable

The city's ambitious project will allow Olympians, and later the French public, to return to the famous river's waters

An offshore well in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana

14,000 Inactive Oil and Gas Wells Are Unplugged in the Gulf of Mexico

Capping these potential sources of methane could cost $30 billion. But targeting wells in shallow waters would have the highest impact, a new study finds

Huge quantities of plastics make their way into oceans and other bodies of water.

The Pacific Garbage Patch Is Home to Coastal Species—in the Middle of the Ocean

These out-of-place organisms are thriving on floating trash, but they may compete with open-water species

Electric cars from Tesla, photographed in 2018

EPA Proposes Tightest-Ever Emissions Limits for Cars

If approved, the rules could lead to electric vehicles comprising 67 percent of new car sales by 2032

Zooplankton help clean Lake Tahoe by eating tiny particles that can make the water cloudy.

Why Lake Tahoe Is the Clearest It's Been in 40 Years

Thanks to a "natural clean-up crew" of zooplankton, the large freshwater alpine lake is looking especially pristine

One-third of the world’s population can’t see the starry band of light in the night sky that makes up the Milky Way (above). The new show “Lights Out: Recovering Our Night Sky” at the National Museum of Natural History looks at the devastating impacts of artificial light.

Why It’s Time for a Worldwide Lights-Out Program

A new Smithsonian exhibition delves into the issue of light pollution, with easy solutions offering an immediate change

A revolutionary new tool, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and NASA, will monitor the chemistry and changing dynamics of major pollutants (above: an Arizona power generating station).

This Eye in the Sky Promises Major Insights Into the Air We Breathe

The satellite mission TEMPO will detect pollutants at a neighborhood scale across the nation

Seabirds catch fish swimming near the ocean's surface, but in the process, they also ingest microplastics.

Microplastics Linked to Changes in Seabirds’ Guts

Birds that ingested more microplastics had more microbes linked to diseases and antibiotic resistance in a new study

Parisians voted to ban for-rent electric scooters.

Parisians Vote to Ban For-Rent Electric Scooters

In a referendum on Sunday, city residents overwhelmingly opted to do away with the iconic mode of transportation

The new E.U. renewable energy target comes as Europe moves away from its reliance on Russian gas and oil and after a new U.N. report that warns of a rapidly warming planet.

E.U. Agrees to Raise Its Renewable Energy Target

The 27 member countries will strive to reach 42.5 percent renewable power by 2030, up from their current goal of 32 percent

Global carbon dioxide emissions reached an all-time high in 2022.

U.N. Climate Change Report Calls for Urgent Action

Countries must strive for more ambitious emissions goals over the next decade, scientists say

"Forever chemicals" have been in firefighting foam as well as products including nonstick cookware and water-repellant clothing. Research has linked them to a number of health problems, including cancer.

EPA Proposes First Limits for Toxic 'Forever Chemicals' in Drinking Water

Under the rule, public water systems would monitor levels of six types of long-lasting contaminants known as PFAS

A $25 million plan to uncover 1,100 feet of Jordan Creek and build three bridges is moving forward in Springfield, Missouri.

How 'Daylighting' Buried Waterways Is Revitalizing Cities Across America

Urban centers are exhuming creeks and streams once covered up to control floodwater—and bringing life back in the process

Industrialization changed Italy’s Bagnoli Bay. Analyzing the DNA that was trapped in sediment offers a record of what was lost—and a clue as to how to get it back.

DNA Buried in Sediment Helps Scientists Picture Past Ecosystems

Examining the evidence offers a way to look back at now damaged environments

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