Report highlights

Highlights of recent reports on the consequences of the Chernobyl accident on thyroid cancer, leukaemia, effects on children health and birth defects (updated version)

Higlights selected by GreenFacts of two recent publications:

1.     the summary of  the UNSCEAR’s assessments of the radiation effects;

2     The summary report on Recent scientific findings and publications on the health effects of ChernobylWorking Party on Research Implications on Health. RADIATION PROTECTION NO 170 Directorate-General for Energy Directorate D — Nuclear Energy Unit D.4 — Radiation Protection 2011

Short summary . The global conclusions of the UNSCEAR report are that besides the most highly exposed individuals, the great majority of the population, according to the UNSCEAR report, is not likely to experience serious health consequences as a result of radiation from the Chernobyl accident. Many other health problems have been noted in the populations that are not related to radiation exposure.

1.  Consequences for the persons directly exposed Among the 106 patients surviving radiation sickness, complete normalization of health took several years. Many of those patients developed clinically significant radiation-induced cataracts in the first few years after the accident. Over the period 1987-2006, 19 survivors died for various reasons; however, some of these deaths were due to causes not associated with radiation exposure.

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Highlights of a report on the European aquatic environment: hazardous substances in fresh and marine waters

“Highlights” by GreenFacts of this technical report of the European Environmental Agency (EEA)

 In summary :

The main aims of this report are:

  1.  to document the sources, pathways, emissions and discharges of selected hazardous substances to Europe’s fresh and marine waters and provide an overview of the current status of, and recent trends in, chemical pollution ofEurope’s in these waters;
  2. to describe some of the impacts that hazardous substances can have upon aquatic biota and outline the potential for human exposure to these substances via water;
  3. to outline key European policy and legislation that addresses the use of hazardous substances and their release to water and highlight selected measures to reduce these emissions;
  4. to present tools and innovative approaches to assess the sources, levels and effects of hazardous  substances, including chemical mixtures.

Note :  The term ‘hazardous substances’ is used throught this report in a broad sense, encompassing a.e. substances of very high concern as defined by the European regulation REACH on chemicals, the hazardous substances as defined by the OSPAR marine Convention (covering the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea) or the potentially wide-ranging list of substances for which EU Member States are to establish their own surface and groundwater standards. Continue reading

Highlights of a report on the potential health impact of pharmaceuticals products released in the environment

The results of a European Environmental Agency workshop

EEA Technical report  No 1/2010, 34

The highlights prepared by GreenFacts are those from the executive summary and from the conclusions chapter of the report [1] Pharmaceuticals in the environment.

The five key facts of the report :

1. All over Europe wastewater and rivers contain a broad variety of  pharmaceutical substances and their metabolites. Not all of them are known.:

2. Research results have confirmed that both human and veterinary medicines pose environmental risks, and some eco-toxicity data indicate that the concentrations found in the environment have detrimental effects.

3. To date, two cases have been identified of pharmaceuticals affecting wildlife.

4. A project financed by the European Commission’s Research Directorate-General reveal however no evidence that current concentrations of pharmaceutical products in the environment will result in significant environmental impact or human harm .

5. There is considerable need for greener pharmacy innovations that are ‘benign by design’ and extending the patent duration for such pharmaceuticals that are ‘benign by design’ could boost incentives to develop substances with less environmental impact. Continue reading

Highlights of a report on the toxicity, dangers and risks from exposure to chemical mixtures (“cocktails”)

Highlights by GreenFacts of an opinion of the non Food  EU Scientific Committees

SCHER, SCCS, SCENIHR, Opinion on the Toxicity and Assessment of Chemical Mixtures, 2012, 50 p.

The non-Food scientific committees are[1]

– The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks -SCHER

– The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks SCENIHR

– The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety – SCCS

Since humans and their environments are exposed to a wide variety of substances, there is increasing concern in the general public about the potential adverse effects of the interactions between those substances when present simultaneously in a mixture (in the media often referred to as “cocktail-effects”). Continue reading

Climate impact of potential shale gas production in the EU – Highlights of a report to DG Environment

Highlights proposed by  GreenFacts of the report: Climate impact of potential shale gas production in the EU delivered to the  European Commission DG CLIMA by AEA, in collaboration with CE Delft and Milieu.

1.       Objectives of this report

The objective of this study is to provide state-of-the-art information to the European Commission on the potential climate implications (via greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions) of possible future technically recoverable shale gas (gas reserves trapped within shale rock[1]) resources inEurope to produce electricity.  According to the report, these resources are of a similar scale to those technically recoverable in theU.S.

The study provides also an assessment of the adequacy of GHG emissions reporting frameworks to cover fugitive emissions of the production of shale gas and, if needed, propose measures for its improvement.

Drawing upon existing research this report provides an examination of the potential climate impacts of shale gas production in the EU. It begins with a review of existing estimates of GHG emissions from shale gas production and of the potential options for abating emissions from shale gas processes. This evidence is then used to estimate the potential emissions that might be associated with shale gas exploitation in the EU about 60-70 g CO2 /MJ, see graph in the report p 64) . The reports estimates also, through the use of appropriate models, each step of the lifecycle GHG emissions of electricity production from shale gas, taking into account the direct and indirect GHG gas emissions associated with gas extraction, transportation and use, including pre-production and production phases (excluding the exploration stage). Continue reading

Potentially endocrine disruptors chemicals: updated assessment for the E.U. of their impact on human health and the environment.

Highlights prepared by GreenFacts of the report “State of the Art Assessment of Endocrine Disrupters” which presents the results of a project commissioned by the European Commission, DG Environment EDC Final Report V3 6 Feb 12.pdf

The report summarises advances in the state of the science since 2002 and maps out ways of dealing with endocrine disrupters in important pieces of EU chemicals regulation, such as e.g. the Plant Protection Product Regulation, PPPR (1107/2009), the new Biocide Regulation and the chemicals regulation, REACH (1907/2006).

1. The context of concerns about endocrine disruption and its relation to some chemicals  

During the last two decades evidence of increasing trends of many endocrine-related disorders in humans has strengthened.

Although the correct description of disease time trends is often complicated by a lack of uniform diagnostic criteria, unfavourable disease trends have become apparent where these difficulties could be overcome. There are negative impacts on the ability to reproduce and develop properly. There is good evidence that wildlife populations have been affected, with sometimes widespread effects. Continue reading

Shale gas : identification of potential dangers and risks for the environment and human health arising from hydraulic fracturing in Europe.

Support to the identification of potential risks for the environment and human health arising from hydrocarbons operations involving hydraulic fracturing in Europe. 

A report to the EU Commission DG Environment 

A short presentation prepared by The GreenFacts Initiative from the original report.(*)

1.Aim of this report  This report sets out the key environmental and health risk issues associated with the potential development and growth of high volume hydraulic fracturing in Europe. The study focused on the net incremental impacts and risks that could result from the possible growth in use of these techniques. This addresses the impacts and risks over and above those already addressed in regulation of conventional gas exploration and extraction. The study distinguishes shale gas associated practices and activities from conventional ones that already take place in Europe, and identifies the potential environmental issues which have not previously been encountered, or which could be expected to present more significant challenges.

The study reviewed available information on a range of potential risks and impacts of high volume hydraulic fracturing. The study concentrated on the direct impacts of hydraulic fracturing and associated activities such as transportation and waste water management. The study did not address secondary or indirect impacts such as those associated with materials extraction (stone, gravel etc.) and energy use related to road, infrastructure and well pad construction. Continue reading

Environmental impact of micro-plastics present in marine litter: assessment and recommendations for a strategy

Highlights selected by GreenFacts from the executive summary of a report by GESAMP (2010) of microplastics in the marine environment and of the JRC report (2011) on Technical Recommendations for the Implementation to marine litter of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive requirements                                                                                                              (An update of the Highlight edition of Dec, 2010)                                                                       

In short: The question raised by the GESAMP is whether the micro-plastic could contribute to the bioaccumulation of toxic contaminants in marine life. Recent studies seem to reveal no increase in the concentration of these contaminants in areas of accumulation of plastic in the oceans and the solutions lie primarily in the management of waste on land and at sea.

Moreover, a technical subgroup under the Working Group on GES in relation to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC investigated the monitoring approaches for marine litter and provides a set of monitoring tools which can be employed for that purpose.

 1. The report on th GESAMP symposium

1.1. evaluation of the environmental impact of plastic litter and micro-plastics

 It is well documented that plastic litter causes physical harm to marine mammals, fish and invertebrates and instances of death by entanglement, asphyxiation or blockage of organs are common. It is also known that plastic particles tend to accumulate persistent, bioaccumulating and toxic contaminants such as PCBs, DDT and PBDEs. One of the greatest uncertainties is whether this leads to the bioaccumulation of the contaminant load (absorbed and plastic additives), and hence whether micro-plastics represent an additional and significant vector for transferring pollutants.

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