The Environment Report

Lake Superior is cold, deep and clear. But it’s no longer the clearest of the Great Lakes.

Lakes Michigan and Huron have gotten clearer, bumping Lake Superior to number three.

Scientists have been able to figure how much clearer by using satellite imagery.

Researchers find there could be more health effects lingering decades after a toxic contamination of Michigan’s food supply.

Well... it's not an absolute "no."

It's more of a "probably not," given what we've learned about the Huron Mountain Club in reporting this story.

We'll get to the downright practical ways you might get into the club below. In the meantime, we'll just say it doesn't hurt your chances if you’re Channing Tatum, or related to Henry Ford (and even Ford had trouble getting in).

Most veterinarians probably don't picture themselves working with bees. But thanks to new federal regulations, more and more might soon find themselves with six-legged patients.

There’s a new guy running the drinking water division at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Eric Oswald served 12 years of active duty in the Air Force. He spent the last five years as a commander at the Air National Guard Base in Battle Creek.

Oswald is not a drinking water expert.

Antidepressants that people take are building up in the brains of fish like walleye, bass, and perch. Researchers studied fish from the Niagara River, which connects lakes Erie and Ontario.

Solving a sugar maple mystery

Sep 6, 2017

Earthworms seem pretty harmless. But they’re causing problems for Michigan’s multi-million dollar sugar maple industry.

That’s the finding of a study by Tara Bal, a research assistant professor of forest resources and environmental science at Michigan Technological University.

Listen to today's Environment Report.

Around the Great Lakes, millions of dollars are spent to fight invasive species like Asian carp. But when scientists find a new animal or plant in the area, it’s not always clear if it’s harmful or helpful.

Common carp have been in Michigan since the late 1800s. They’re not considered an invasive species because they’ve been around so long. Many people consider them to be a “trash fish,” but flyfishing for carp is very popular in northern Michigan.

Why we could have more toxic blooms in our warming world

Aug 22, 2017

There’s a green bloom of cyanobacteria on Lake Erie again. People who run water utilities and scientists are watching the bloom because the cyanobacteria can produce toxins called microcystins that are dangerous for people and pets. It's what made Toledo’s drinking water unsafe to drink in 2014.

Chris Winslow directs Ohio Sea Grant and Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory. He says the bloom’s covering about 10% of the western basin.

Building a better Lyme disease test?

Aug 17, 2017

Experts tell us it’s important to treat Lyme disease early, and state officials say Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Michigan. 

But officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it can sometimes be confused with a similar condition that’s also transmitted by ticks, called Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, or STARI.

One of the toughest things about being a parent in Flint right now is the uncertainty. If your kid gets diagnosed with ADHD, or struggles in school, there’s a part of you that wonders: is it because of the lead exposure?  

An Asian carp was caught this summer in a place where it shouldn’t be – beyond an electric barrier meant to keep the species out of Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes. Now, a researcher at Southern Illinois University is trying to figure out just how it got there.

Trying to trap invasive sea lamprey with "eel ladders"

Aug 9, 2017

The sea lamprey is an invasive fish with a round mouth like a suction cup. It latches onto big fish like lake trout and salmon, drills its razor sharp tongue into them, and gets fat drinking their blood and body fluids. A single lamprey can kill up to 40 pounds of fish in its lifetime.

We spend about $20 million dollars a year to control lampreys. One of the main ways people do that is with a pesticide, but researchers are working on other ways to control the invasive species.

Water filters that you attach to your faucet are known to be good for filtering out heavy metals like lead and disinfectants like chlorine. But they’re not designed to filter out bacteria that can grow in the filter itself.

Turning an old highway into a "pop-up forest"

Jul 25, 2017

Many cities in the Rust Belt are still shrinking, because people continue to move away. Some have lost so many people, that highways are unneeded, and being removed.

In one Midwestern city, what’s being constructed (at least, temporarily) is giving some people hope for the future of its downtown.

More flights could get grounded because of heat waves

Jul 20, 2017

Remember how it was too hot for planes to fly in Phoenix last month?

That could happen more often as our climate warms.

Radley Horton is an associate research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Horton is an author of a new study on this issue in the journal Climatic Change.

Biologists say the sixth mass extinction episode on Earth is already happening. But researchers say if we only look at species extinctions, we miss a big part of the story.

Paul Ehrlich is a professor emeritus of biology at Stanford University, and an author of a new study about this published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

White-nose syndrome is killing millions of bats in 31 states including Michigan, and five Canadian provinces. It’s a disease caused by a fungus.

But clusters of bats that warm up together during hibernation might have an edge against the fungus. Researchers discovered this by putting temperature-sensing surveillance cameras in caves.

There’s a newly discovered kind of bacteria that can cause Lyme disease, Borrelia mayonii. Scientists have run tests to find out how long it takes to transmit the disease after a tick bites you.

Long-term exposure to certain kinds of air pollution increases the risk of premature death in Americans over 65 years old. That finding holds true even at levels of air pollution below national standards.

The EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice is meant to defend communities that face a disproportionate share of the effects of pollution. But that office’s funding could be cut entirely in the 2018 budget.

This week, experts are getting together in Ann Arbor to make a warning system for meteotsunamis in the Great Lakes. We have on average 106 meteotsunamis in the lakes each year.

New charges in the Flint water crisis are connected to the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

Five current and former government officials are now facing involuntary manslaughter charges in the Flint water crisis. The charges are in connection with a Legionnaires' disease outbreak during the height of the crisis. Legionnaires’ disease is a serious form of pneumonia caused by bacteria.

Researchers have found some kinds of chemicals are harder to filter from water.

These compounds belong to a family called highly fluorinated chemicals. They’re used to make carpets, clothes and cookware stain and water repellant.

They’ve also been used in firefighting foam at military bases and airports. Those chemicals from firefighting foam have contaminated drinking water around the country, including drinking water wells near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base near Oscoda.

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