Horse Racing Tracks : Addressing Environmental Concerns w/ Proper Manure Management

Most U.S. state governments support the horse racing industry mainly because they are part of the regional tradition, aside from being a stable source of taxes. However, there came a time when communities with race tracks had raised concerns over the amount of animal wastes produced by horses and their effect on the environment.

During the early 19th century, the issues related to horse manure were mainly concerned with the horse manure left on streets by horses and horse-driven carriages used aa modes of transport during the era. In the 21st century, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) still saw problems in animal wastes disposal systems not only in the agricultural sector, but also in the horse racing/horse breeding industry.

Advanced solutions to the “great manure crisis of 2017” were introduced as more efficient and eco-friendly methods of solving deficiencies in animal wastes management. Yet the implementation of said solutions remained a problem among track operators as the additional costs can impact the horse racing revenues generated by the racecourses. Studies show that a single horse is capable of producing an average of 12 tons of wastes yearly, comprising manure and soiled beddings.

To force race track operators to install systems of proper horse wastes disposal, the EPA imposed hefty fines on those found non-compliant with the federal government’s policies on proper horse waste management.

Case Example of EPA Actions on Violation of Prescribed Horse Waste Management Systems

Inasmuch as animal wastes are also usable as fertilizers, related waste disposal systems are mainly concerned in preventing waste runoffs from polluting local waters. Moreover, different types of wastes e.g. horse carcasses, urine, manure and beddings, produce different pollutants that have varying impacts on the environment.

To cite an example of how EPA enforced environmental laws related to proper management of horse wastes, reference is made to the Sterling Suffolk Racecourse (SSR) in Boston, Massachusetts. A few years ago, the EPA had fined the then owners of the race track hefty fines, amounting to nearly $5 million. The amount included costs of remediation actions instituted, to address the environmental problems caused by SSR’s improper horse waste management.

According to EPA reports, the seriousness of the damage created by SSR’s poor waste management were due to the type of wastes that were allowed to runoff and contaminate the bodies of water in Boston. Horse waste runoffs had resulted in algae growth, which led to decreases in oxygen levels and conditions harmful to aquatic creatures inhabiting the local waters. If not addressed with remediation measures, the pollutant can pose as contaminants that carry bacteria and parasites that can transmit diseases to humans.

Although the SSR racing grounds was later sold to a real estate developer, SSR leased back part of the property for horse racing and advance-deposit wagering. In July 2019, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission gave the race track operators approval to hold four days of racing in the 2019 Suffolks Down; to which approval came with heavy opposition from some members of the Commission.

Despite the limited number of days, Past the Wire (https://pastthewire.com/category/horse-racing-news/ ) noted that track operators, the local horsemen and the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeders Association deemed the four days of seeing action in the 2019 Suffolks Down, as better than none.

Microplastics Fall Like Rain in Protected Areas

Researchers identified and tracked the movement of microplastics, and discovered that they fall like rain in the wilderness and national parks. These findings were published by Utah State University researchers in the June edition of Science Magazine captioned as “Plastic Rain in Protected Areas of the U.S.”

Using high-resolution atmosphere-related deposition data, and by identifying samples of microplastics and other particulate matters gathered from 11 national parks and protected wildlife areas over a 14-month period, a team of USU researchers led by Assistant Professor Janice Brahney, were able to identify the sources of the microplastics. Once the microscopic particles spiral upward in the atmosphere, the researchers were able to track the locations where they fall and eventually be deposited as pollutants.

Professor Janice Brahney said that the data they collected about microplastics cycle reminds them of the global water cycle — having terrestrial, oceanic and atmospheric lifetimes.

Microplastic life history in both wet and dry depositions, usually originate in cities and in populated urban centers. In those areas, the redistribution and reintroduction of microplastic materials in soils and surface waters pose as secondary sources.

Magnitude of the Microplastic Pollution in Western U.S.

Research studies conducted in watershed areas revealed that more than 1000 tons of microplastics, roughly the equivalent of 123 million PET plastic bottles, find their way each year in national parks and wilderness areas across the Western region of the United States.

Plastic materials are very useful in everyday lives because of their highly-resilient property and longevity. However, those same traits cause plastic to go into progressive fragmentation, instead of degradation.

As a result, once they are dry and light enough, they float, spiral and pollute the atmosphere. After which, the atmospheric accumulation will fall out as wet depositions; raining down on rivers, wastewaters and eventually in the world’s oceans.

Professor Brahney said they confirmed their findings by way of 32 varying particle scans, which were consistent in revealing that roughly 4% of the atmospheric particles found from remote locations were synthetic polymer materials.

The university lab researchers analyzed the microfibers as coming from industrial and clothing articles. Moreover, about 30% of the particles analyzed were in the form of brightly colored microbeads, which were acrylic by composition; like the substances used in the manufacture of industrial paints and coatings.

NCSU Study Says Climate Change Effects Will Adversely Impact Recreational Fishing

The effects of climate change on the environment can impact recreational fishing. This was the findings of a recent research study conducted by the North Carolina State University. The report was published in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, in October, 2019.

Roger von Haefen, a professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University who co-authored the study reported that

“We are looking at declines in participation in recreational fishing by around 15% by the year 2080, if there are no significant efforts to curtail climate change.”

Professor von Haefen pointed out that their study focused mainly on how changes in precipitation and temperature will influence the willingness of anglers to fish from the shore. Their work did not take into consideration other factors that could affect the demand for recreational fishing, such shifts in fish population, water quality or other climate change occurrences.

The research work incorporated data into a model that simulated recreational behavior, which combined forecasts based on 132 general circulation models. Each model was designed to predict future weather conditions under scenarios with varying greenhouse gas reductions.

Based on how the simulated recreational behavior model responded to the different climate change scenarios, Steven Dundas, co-author of the study, who is an Assistant Professor of Applied Economics at Oregon State University, described the best and worst case scenarios. He reported that if the world adopts stringent mitigation efforts to arrest the effects of climate change, fishing participation will see a drop of only 2.6% by the year 2080.

If otherwise, Professor Dundas said that under a “worst-case scenario”, decline in recreational fishing participation will start at 3.4 % within the next 30 years, to drop further by as much as 9.9% by the year 2050, and eventually by 15% by the year 2080.

Still, Professor von Haefen added that in cooler areas like New England, there could be increases in fishing recreation activities, especially during spring and autumn. In contrast, hotter states such as those located in the Gulf region and in the Southeast, recreational fishing will likely see significant declines during summertime.

The results of their study also suggests that avid anglers who will still fish during hot days may make adjustments by fishing at night or in the early mornings.

Underscoring the Importance of Responsible Recreational Fishing

The findings underscores the importance of practicing sustainable fishing methods that not only protect fisheries but also help in mitigating the effects of climate change. Anglers tend to be more concerned on the gears to use to ensure success every time thy go out and fish. However, they should also have awareness of fishing habits that can negatively impacts the environment.

First and foremost is to be mindful of the fishing regulations because state governments have put them in place to protect fisheries and the environment as a whole.

Make sure the boat in use is properly maintained to avoid burning more fuel or oil than is necessary.

Practice reuse and recycle, which include throwing disposables like plastic bottles and monofilament fishing lines, in recycling bins.

Speaking of monofilament fishing lines, many do not recommend the use of monofilament as backing. Mainly because the stretch and the heat produced by monofilament as backing can do harm to one’s fly reel. Anyway, if you have experienced this and are currently looking for a replacement, you can always find the best fly reel under 200.

Studies Reveal that Undetected Nano and Microplastic Wastes Cause Environmental Harms

Researchers from the Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials and the University of Surrey revealed that plastic wastes occurring in waste streams undergo further break down into minute particles; raising environmental concerns about the possible catastrophic impact of the tiny plastic particles on aquatic systems and human health.

Studies conducted by Dr Ludovic Dumée at Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials, and Dr Judy Lee and Marie Enfrin, both from the University of Surrey’s Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, looked into the occurrence of microplastics in water.

They found out that when undergoing waste treatment processes, plastic wastes break down into minute particles, in nano and micro sizes. The study also observed that the presence of microplastics in water impaired the performance of natural treatment plants, which as a result disparages the quality of water.

The team’s findings were published in the Journal of Water Research last September 09, 2019.

Detection of Nano and Microsized Plastics Poses an Environmental Challenge

The high point of the University of Surrey’s study is the difficulty in spotting and discerning the presence of microplastics in treatment systems.

Project leader, Dr Lee, who is also a Senior Lecturer at the University of Surrey, remarked that

“The presence and related detection of nano and microplastics in water have become major environmental challenges.” “Nano and microplastics can easily be ingested by living organisms, as well as travel along water and wastewater treatment processes”. “When occurring in large quantities, they clog up filtration units of water treatment processes, which impacts performance, as well as increase the wear and tear on elements used in water treatment units.”

Dr. Lee’s remarks were based on research that shows an approximation of about 300 million tons of plastic materials are annually produced worldwide. Up to 13 million tons of which, flow into rivers and oceans. The research team estimates that by 2025, approximately 250 million tons of plastic will have been released into oceans and rivers.

Plastic materials as we all know, are generally not degradable by way of ageing or weathering, and therefore likely to accumulate and pollute aquatic environments.

In order to address major concerns on how nano and microplastics can diminish water quality to one that does not meet safety standards, as well as the threats they pose to the Earth’s ecosystems, it is important that improved detection strategies are in place. That way, the occurrence of nano and microplastics in wastewater treatment systems and in bodies of water will be limited.