4 results found
Hunt C, Wilson HL, Voulvoulis N, 2021, Evaluating alternatives to plastic microbeads in cosmetics, Nature Sustainability, Vol: 4, Pages: 366-372, ISSN: 2398-9629
In our haste to ban or regulate unsustainable and environmentally damaging materials and chemicals, we may overlook dangers posed by their substitutes. In light of the scientific evidence regarding the fate, persistence and toxicity of microplastics in the marine environment, many countries have banned the sale of rinse-off cosmetics containing plastic microbeads to prevent their release to the environment. However, the wider lifetime environmental impacts of the potential substitutes have not up to now been considered, and care must be taken so that the environmental costs of using them do not potentially outweigh the benefit resulting from the bans. In this study, we use Life Cycle Assessment to compare the environmental performance of a wide range of potential alternatives. The study investigates the quantities of these materials required, and the human health and environmental impacts of their manufacture, transport and inclusion in cosmetics. We highlight that long-term environmental and human health effects of their disposal are unknown and are thus excluded from the Life Cycle Assessment. In support of the responsible replacement of plastic microbeads in cosmetics, we identify several alternatives that will perform better, as well as substitutes that could pose additional risks and have undesirable effects.
Hunt C, Voulvoulis N, 2021, Chemical Pollution of the Aquatic Environment and Health, Environmental Pollutant Exposures and Public Health, Editors: Harrison, Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry, Pages: 36-69, ISBN: 978-1-78801-895-1
The dramatic increases in industrialisation over the past three centuries have changed human exposures to both natural and synthetic chemicals. There is mounting unease about the risk to the environment and human health of synthetic chemicals, on top of the well-known risks associated with both naturally occurring and man-made chemicals when at high concentrations (e.g. poisoning from natural arsenic concentrations in groundwater in Bangladesh and mercury from industrial discharges in Minamata, Japan, respectively). Modern industrial chemicals can be persistent in the environment and bioaccumulate in wildlife, with trace concentrations released into the aquatic environment building up over time and polluting the food chain. Cocktails of these chemicals have unknown effects that even at very low levels may still have significant and widespread adverse environmental and human health consequences (e.g. cancer risk and impaired reproductive development) from chronic exposure. Most recently, microplastics and nanoparticles in the aquatic environment have been recognised as a threat, both directly and as vectors for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) adsorbed onto their surfaces. Although some progress has been made in managing risks to human health from exposure to aquatic chemical pollution, we must be ever aware of the changing nature of these threats.
A practical framework for flood risk screening was developed to assess the flood risk to water utility assets within the infrastructure network. The tool is a combination of probability and consequence assessments. The first takes into account how probable it is for a particular asset to flood and cause significant damage. The second estimates the level of consequences a flood will have, considering, for example, the level of loss of service, environmental pollution and cost. The consequence assessment is based on a dependency assessment that identifies knock‐on effects on other assets within the asset network and assesses the level of consequence they will have. The probability and consequence assessments are combined to produce a risk score that can be used to rank assets in a screening process that aims to assist companies in prioritising the investments required for taking action to reduce flood risk to their assets.
Rowsell VF, Tangney P, Hunt C, et al., 2010, Estimating Levels of Micropollutants in Municipal Wastewater, Water, Air and Soil Pollution, Vol: 206, Pages: 357-368, ISSN: 0049-6979
Exposure to micropollutants can pose a serious risk to both the environment and human health. Although sewage treatment works (STWs) aim to reduce levels of pollutants in municipal wastewater discharges, they have become a significant point source of dangerous substances to the aquatic environment. With increasing regulation on pollution prevention, it has become essential to assess STW source inputs in order to control pollutant discharge into the environment. This paper has therefore focussed on developing calculations to estimate micropollutant levels in STW influents. The analysis was carried out using information from published literature, the Water Industry, and monitored influent data. Results demonstrated that, where monitoring data were available for metals and organic pollutants, STW influent could be adequately estimated and validated, with accuracy between 77% and 100%. In addition, based on these calculations and using data for over 600 STWs in England, our analysis showed that compounds such as di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, lead and linear alkylbenzenesulfonate could reach influent levels that could be challenging for conventional wastewater treatment removal.
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