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Some rat, possum and mozzie species thrive when living close to people. Mark Philpott/Flickr

Urbanisation brings animals and diseases closer to home

Our world is becoming increasingly urbanised. In 1950, just 30% of the world’s population lived in urban areas. This number is now over 50% and rising. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population are…
Children are particularly susceptible to the toxic effects of lead because their brains and bodies are still developing. Viacheslav Nikolaenko/Shutterstock

Toxic playgrounds: Broken Hill kids exposed to poisonous dust

In the shadows of Broken Hill’s rich mining history lies a legacy of contamination and regulatory failure that will likely outlive any benefits locals derive from mining. One in five children aged under…
Tut tut: Belgian cyclist Dries Devenyns throws his bottle during the 10th stage of the 2011 Tour de France. EPA/Nicolas Bouvy

The Tour de France – race of beauty or environmental hazard?

It’s that time of year again. The 101st Tour de France begins this Saturday July 5 in the Yorkshire city of Leeds, and three days later it returns to French home soil for Stage 4 (Le Touquet-Paris-Plage…
A report criticising government oversight of a major Gladstone harbour dredging project has warned against cutting resources for environmental monitoring and compliance. Flickr/GreensMPs

Environmental job cuts risk a repeat of Gladstone failures

A long-awaited report on environmental failures at the biggest port along the Great Barrier Reef coastline and today’s federal budget may not seem connected – but if you read the report, it’s clear just…
Four out of five Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast – but expanding cities are taking a toll on our environment. Paul Boyce/Flickr

The state of Australia: our environment

In the lead-up to the budget, the story of crisis has been hammered home, but there’s more to a country than its structural deficit. So how is Australia doing overall? In this special series, ten writers…
Mount Isa exceeded the national one-hour standard for sulfur dioxide emissions 49 times in 2012. Zurbagan/Shutterstock

Reducing the harms of toxic air in mining and smelting communities

Children in the mining towns of Mount Isa in Queensland and Port Pirie in South Australia are exposed to harmful levels of pollutants that increase their risk of learning and developmental disorders, and…
The South Australian town of Port Pirie – home to a historic smelter – has some of the worst reported toxic air pollution in Australia. Photo by Imre Hillenbrand www.universalfocus.com.au

Australia’s dirty secret: who’s breathing toxic air?

Australians living in poorer communities, with lower employment and education levels, as well as communities with a high proportion of Indigenous people, are significantly more likely to be exposed to…
Amphipods on anti-depressants found their lives brightened, right up until they were eaten. Arnold Paul

Prozac alters prawns’ behaviour, reproduction and even their colour

The idea that tiny amounts of antidepressants present in our rivers and estuaries may be affecting aquatic life is generally met with surprise, sometimes scepticism, or even a degree of humour. The public…
The largest impacts will occur in poorer and vulnerable populations. 'Collecting water' by UNAMID

Climate change and health: IPCC reports emerging risks, emerging consensus

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Impacts volume of the Fifth Assessment Report will be released today. Here, three contributors to the health chapter explain the ideas and evidence…
Tourists wear protective masks in smoggy Tiananmen Square on February 26, 2014, when the air quality was officially ‘hazardous’. EPA/Rolex Dela Pena

China can’t smother growing public demands to clear the air

Beijing has once again experienced extremely poor air quality, in what is becoming a regular event for the Chinese capital and other parts of the country. But has anything changed since the last “airpocalypse…
Heat represents a classic public health issue requiring committed government action to prevent deaths. Flickr/kittykatfish

How can we avoid future ‘epidemics’ of heat deaths?

Heatwaves are returning to southern parts of Australia. Temperatures in Hobart reached 38.7C on Monday, Adelaide has another run of 40C-plus days looming, and Melbourne is facing a weekend high of 41C…
What is coming out of our tailpipes that we can’t see? Lewis Whyld/PA

Explainer: nanoparticles in air pollution

Hearing the words “airborne nanoparticles” for the first time, one would probably ask: just how tiny are they, where do they come from, and do we need to worry about them? These tiny particles between…
We still don’t know what impact the chemicals used to extract coal seam gas have on our health. Greens MPs

We need to do our homework on the health risks of coal seam gas

Last night’s ABC Four Corners program, Gas Leak!, highlighted worrying flaws in the approval and monitoring processes for coal seam gas (CSG) developments of state governments in Queensland and New South…
Heavy smog is descending on Beijing again, a week after record air pollution choked China’s capital and much of northern China. AAP/EPA/Adrian Bradshaw

Deadly air: the smog shrouding China’s future

Beijing has been smothered by a dense and dangerous smog this month, which has set new air pollution records over several days. The World Health Organization advises that the acceptable level of fine particles…

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