Scientists have detected 55 new environmental chemicals in humans—including some with unknown sources and uses. By 2030, more than 60 countries could see their credit ratings cut due to climate change.


Scientists have detected 109 chemicals in a study of pregnant women, including 55 chemicals never before reported in people and 42 “mystery chemicals,” whose sources and uses are unknown. The chemicals were found in the blood of both the pregnant women and their newborn children, suggesting they are traveling through the mother’s placenta.

“It is alarming that we keep seeing certain chemicals travel from pregnant women to their children, which means these chemicals can be with us for generations,” said one of the researchers.

The 109 chemicals are found in many different types of products. For example, 40 are used as plasticizers, 28 in cosmetics, 25 in consumer products, 29 as pharmaceuticals, 23 as pesticides, three as flame retardants, and seven are PFAS compounds, which are used in carpeting, upholstery and other applications. The researchers say it’s possible there are also other uses for all of these chemicals.

Source: “Evidence of 55 new chemicals in people,” Science Daily, March 17, 2021; study: “Suspect Screening, Prioritization, and Confirmation of Environmental Chemicals in Maternal-Newborn Pairs from San Francisco,” Environmental Science & Technology, March 16, 2021


A new algorithm-based study by a group of UK universities has predicted that 63 countries—roughly half the number rated by the likes of S&P Global, Moody’s and Fitch—could see their credit ratings cut because of climate change by 2030. As rating cuts usually increase countries’ borrowing costs in international markets, the downgrades could add $137-$205 billion to countries’ annual debt service payments by 2100.

Researchers from Cambridge University, the University of East Anglia and London-based SOAS looked at a “realistic scenario” known as RCP 8.5, where carbon and other polluting emissions continue rising in coming decades. They also looked at the impact that climate change—due to rising temperatures and sea levels, increased extreme-weather events, etc.—could have on countries’ economies and finances and how that might affect their credit ratings.

“We find that 63 sovereigns suffer climate-induced downgrades of approximately 1.02 notches by 2030, rising to 80 sovereigns facing an average downgrade of 2.48 notches by 2100,” the study said.

The hardest hit countries included China, Chile, Malaysia and Mexico, which could see six notches of downgrades by the end of the century, as well as the United States, Germany, Canada, Australia, India, and Peru, which could see around four.

“Our results show that virtually all countries, whether rich or poor, hot or cold, will suffer downgrades if the current trajectory of carbon emissions is maintained.”

Source: “Global Warming Could Slash the Credit Ratings of 63 Countries: Study,” Carrier Management/Reuters, March 21, 2021