Researchers find dangerous amounts of lead in fidget spinners

May 31, 2017 by  
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Fidget spinners are having a moment – practically everywhere you go someone has one twirling on a fingertip or tucked into a pocket. But environmental activist Tamara Rubin recently tested a variety of spinners for  lead  and mercury, and the results will shock you. Rubin, an independent lead poisoning prevention advocate, first tested three fidget spinners sent to her by a friend with an XRF instrument. Two were lead-free, but one had very high levels of lead and some mercury . She then disassembled a fidget spinner with LED lights and found both lead and mercury. She found 19,000 parts per million (ppm) of lead and 1,000 ppm of mercury. Related: Oakland has an even worse lead problem than Flint, Michigan These numbers are sobering because scientists consider under 90 ppm of lead to be the safe threshold in children’s toys, according to Rubin. But the paint on the LED light spinner contained 334 ppm of lead and 155 ppm of mercury in one test. The unpainted metal base contained 1,562 ppm of mercury and 2,452 ppm of lead. Rubin later tested six more fidget spinners and found a $31 from Yomaxer that contained 42,800 ppm of lead. She noted ordinary consumers won’t have access to an XRF instrument, which can cost around $50,000. She recommends avoiding fidget spinners available for purchase and instead making your own , such as a fidget spinner out of LEGOs . In an email about her results, Rubin said she’s very concerned about the high levels of lead discovered in random testing as the toys are so popular. So far she’s tested 11 fidget spinners in total and found two with exceedingly dangerous levels of lead. You can read more about Rubin’s testing methods here . Via Tamara Rubin ( 1 , 2 ) Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 )

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Researchers find dangerous amounts of lead in fidget spinners

Finding Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Employee

May 31, 2017 by  
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  Given that many Americans spend a majority of the day at work, finding ways to be green in the office is an important part of reducing climate change and living an environmentally friendly lifestyle. Even if your workplace as a whole isn’t…

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Finding Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Employee

World’s first commercial carbon-sucking plant goes live in Zurich

May 31, 2017 by  
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Carbon capture is essential to the fight against climate change and keeping temperatures below a two-degree-Celsius increase, according to Swiss-based Climeworks . For a few years now they’ve been working on technology to suck carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and sell it to agriculture or energy industries for reuse. And now they’ve finally switched on the final product – the world’s first Direct Air Capture (DAC) commercial plant on top of a waste recovery facility in Zurich, Switzerland . Atop a municipal-run waste incineration facility in Zurich, Climeworks installed their DAC plant, which is comprised of three stacked shipping containers with six carbon collectors. Fans suck ambient air into the collectors, and a filter takes in CO2. Waste heat will power the groundbreaking plant. Climeworks will send the captured CO2 to a greenhouse – every single year they’ll be able to supply 900 metric tons. They’ll be able to continuously supply the CO2 to the greenhouse via an underground pipeline. Related: The world’s first carbon capture plant can convert CO2 into usable energy In a statement, managing director and co-founder Christoph Gebald said, “Highly scalable negative emission technologies are crucial if we are to stay below the two degree target of the international community.” And the CO2 won’t go to waste. Greenhouses aren’t the only entities that can utilize CO2; it could carbonate drinks or become carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuel. The automotive and food industries could benefit from the CO2 Climeworks captures. Their ultimate goal is to capture one percent of all carbon emissions in the world by 2025. To do that, co-founder and director Jan Wurzbacher estimates they’ll need to install 750,000 shipping containers filled with their C02 collectors. He says that is the same amount of shipping containers that pass through the harbor in Shanghai during a two week period, so it’s a target the global economy could handle. Climeworks says their modular plants could be deployed just about anywhere. + Climeworks Via Climeworks and Fast Company Images via screenshot and Climeworks Facebook

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World’s first commercial carbon-sucking plant goes live in Zurich

White House official says Trump is pulling out of the Paris Agreement

May 31, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump is set to withdraw from the historic 2015 Paris Agreement , according to several news outlets. It appears he’ll stick with his ill-advised campaign promise after all, and favor nationalist voices like that of Steve Bannon against the more moderate tones of his daughter Ivanka Trump. Even oil and gas companies like Shell and ExxonMobil called for America to stay in the deal. The move will likely mean the United States loses their footing as a global leader in the fight against climate change – but that’s not the worst of it. At a moment when decisive action against climate change has never been more crucial, the leader of one of the planet’s most influential countries could yank the nation out of the hard-fought, historic Paris deal praised as a victory for the entire world. Axios reported according to “two sources with direct knowledge of the decision,” Trump will withdraw from the agreement. That report is backed up by other news outlets such as Politico, which spoke with whom they referred to as a White House official. Related: G7 leaders openly say climate change consensus does not include US On Trump’s recent trip abroad, numerous world leaders and Pope Francis entreated the United States to stay in the deal. Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also wanted America to stay on board with the deal. Axios reports 22 Republican Senators wrote a letter, however, that helped sway Trump’s mind against the accord. Supposedly for the past week the president has been telling people close to him that he intended to yank America out of the deal, even though he refused to share his intentions with G7 leaders. Working with a small team, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt is working out how the US will pull out of the agreement, according to Axios. A formal withdrawal could take around three years. Such a drastic move from Trump could weaken the Paris Agreement, as the United States is the world’s second biggest carbon polluter. Via Axios and Politico Images via Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Flickr and Jim Mattis on Flickr

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White House official says Trump is pulling out of the Paris Agreement

Score 1150 worth of solar outdoor lighting in our summer solar giveaway

May 31, 2017 by  
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Now that summer is almost upon us, we’re spending as much time as possible outdoors – and as longer days give way to warmer nights, the benefits of solar-powered lighting really start to shine. Solar outdoor lights will save you money on your electricity bill all year long, and they’re super convenient because they can be placed practically anywhere without worry about complicated electrical wiring. Solar power is ideal for street lamps, security lights, outdoor landscape lighting, path lighting, and entry lights. If you’d like to pick up some quality solar lamps this summer, you’re in luck – we’ve teamed up with product maker Deelat Industrial to offer you a shot at winning $1150 worth of solar outdoor lighting ! We’ll be selecting three lucky entrants to win Deelat Industrial gift certificates for outdoor solar lighting, valued at $700, $350, and $100. Simply enter our Rafflecopter contest below and share it with your friends to boost your chances of winning! Enter here for your chance to win: a Rafflecopter giveaway We’ll select three lucky entrants to win Deelat Industrial gift certificates valued at $700 , $350 , and $100 . Our $100 drawing will take place on June 13th; our $350 drawing will take place on June 14th; and our $700 grand prize drawing will take place on June 15th. Read on for a look at some of the prizes you can pick! DEELAT INDUSTRIAL SOLAR POWERED LIGHTS: Solar low landscape light – $240 for six Solar lights are great for illuminating areas of your backyard that are far away from an electricity outlet. This 32-inch-tall solar landscape light is perfect for lighting trails and garden features – and it lasts all night long after charging for 8 hours in the sun. Solar-powered outdoor LED landscape light – $242 Deelat Industrial’s powerful outdoor LED landscape light is perfect for areas where you need bright illumination in the evening hours, like a parking area, tennis court, pathway or garden. It charges during the day to provide 5 hours of 900 lumen LED lighting in a 20-foot radius around its base. After that, it provides a soft glow at 25% power until dawn. Solar-powered outdoor street light – $399 For commercial outdoor lighting needs, such as parking lots and streets, this Deelat Industrial streetlight provides 2000 lumen illumination over a 6-meter radius. 9-10 hours of bright sunlight will fully charge the battery for three nights of lighting – without any impact on your electricity bill. It’s also cheaper to install than a standard streetlight since it doesn’t need to be connected from the grid, and it can be placed practically anywhere. In addition to street lighting, it’s great for campuses and large gathering areas like tennis courts, big patios and gardens. Solar street and landscape light – $156 For driveways, parking lots, large gardens and streets where you need evening light, this solar street and landscape light is the perfect fit. It gathers light all day to shine with a moderate 300 lumen brightness for 5 hours, shifting to half that until dawn, to provide a steady light during the most active evening hours and accent light the rest of the night. When the passive infrared sensor is activated, it lights up with 1000 lumen illumination. Solar-powered motion light – $85 Deelat Industrial’s solar motion light is perfect for keeping your property safe with a whopping 1000 lumen illumination. As soon as the waterproof light senses motion, it turns on with light that can be set to bright, dim or dark, so it can be used in any space where you need instant brightness without having to flip a switch. Solar-powered outdoor step light – $45 Keep your stairs and walkways safe at night with a solar-powered outdoor step light . This light has 20 lumens for subtle accent lighting that lasts all night long. It’s perfect for creating ambience on your patio or courtyard, and it can also prevent trips and falls by providing a guiding light on staircases or entry ways. Small solar-powered motion sensor light – $22 This 200 lumen lamp automatically lights up when you approach – so it’s ideal for use as a security light or for lighting footpaths and high-trafficked entryways where you might have your hands full. A 12-hour charge in the sun will provide over three nights worth of power. Solar-powered 3-in-1 floating/pendant/ground globe light – $28 Looking for versatility in your lighting choices? This luminous globe can be hung high up like a pendant lamp, anchored to the ground to provide accent lighting for your garden or driveway, and it even floats – so you can set it up in a pond or fountain. Wall-mounted solar-powered sconce – $82 This European-style lantern makes a great addition to entryways, and since it’s solar powered there’s no complex requiring necessary. The sconce shines bright with 200 lumens and lasts all night long after soaking up 8 hours of sunlight. ABOUT OUR SPONSOR Deelat Industrial offers a wide range of high-quality solar lamps that are made to last from durable aluminum, toughened glass, and energy-efficient LEDs. From atmospheric garden lights and motion-detecting lamps to flood lamps and super-bright 8000 lumen streetlights , they’ve got every lighting need covered – and most of their solar lamps will last for 8-10 hours after a full day’s charge. + Deelat Industrial Save

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Score 1150 worth of solar outdoor lighting in our summer solar giveaway

Climate change could make cities 8C hotter by 2100, new studies show

May 31, 2017 by  
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Climate change is raising temperatures , but the impact could be worse in the world’s cities . Researchers say the urban heat island effect – or the fact that cities are hotter thanks to human activity – combined with climate change could increase temperatures in urban areas by around 14.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or eight degrees Celsius, by the end of the 21st century. Three researchers led by Francisco Estrada of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Institute of Environmental Studies projected city temperatures could rise by around five degrees Celsius due to climate change, as well as an additional two or three degrees Celsius as asphalt and concrete crowd out parks and lakes in metropolises, inducing the urban heat island effect. Such increased temperatures could impact human health and burden natural resources . Related: New NOAA tool shows how climate change will affect your neighborhood As major cities prepare for the impacts of climate change, many of them likely haven’t been considering the urban heat island effect. The researchers said many impact estimates don’t include the effect. So they drew on average planetary warming projections combined with the effect, and used data from 1,692 of Earth’s biggest cities between 1950 and 2015, to determine the economic costs of climate change. They also built their research on worse case scenarios: if carbon emissions continue to rise instead of declining. The results aren’t pretty: cities hit the hardest could lose 10.9 percent of GDP by 2100. Only around one percent of the planet’s surface is covered with cities, but the urban centers produce around 80 percent of gross world product. Around 78 percent of the energy consumed worldwide happens in cities. They also generate over 60 percent of global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels . Cities have a chance to act on the research now – mitigating the urban heat island effect by taking actions like planting trees ; green roofs could help too. The journal Nature Climate Change published the research online this week. Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Climate change could make cities 8C hotter by 2100, new studies show

Nonprofit teaches communities how to build homes out of straw, clay and soil

May 31, 2017 by  
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Emily Niehaus was working as a loan officer when she see realized that there was a need for affordable, sustainable housing options in her community. So she founded Community Rebuilds – a nonprofit that teaches people to build affordable homes out of “dirt cheap” materials like clay , straw and soil . Interns participate in a 5-month program, completing two homes from foundation to finish using sustainable living principles. Community Rebuilds started in Moab, UT as a way to ease the financial strains of people living in the community. Since then, the project has spread to southwestern Colorado and the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. The initiative has constructed 25 homes in four communities with the goal of expanding knowledge about valuable natural building skills across the US. Homes are built out of natural materials like straw, soil and clay using passive design techniques. They are equipped with green tech like solar arrays and sustainable features like adobe floors, earthen plasters and greywater systems. Related: Navajo mum gets new lease on life with this solar-powered home The first home was built in 2010, and since then the internship has evolved to include 16 people over a five-month term. Interns build two homes from the ground up. In exchange for their labor they get housing, food and an invaluable education in sustainable building. + Community Rebuilds  

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Nonprofit teaches communities how to build homes out of straw, clay and soil

Glowing see-through garden house lets plants soak up the sun

May 31, 2017 by  
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Sometimes less really is more. This beautiful glowing home by H.a Architects was inspired by just one thing – lush greenery. Located in Ho Chi Minh City , the Less Home is clad in perforated white metal that lets in optimal natural light for the abundant vegetation that weaves throughout the interior. The home’s two-story tower design had to be strategic to make the most out of the small plot of land where the building stands. The compact space, which currently houses a family of seven, led the architects to create a flexible interior layout. Composed of various moveable partition s, the system allows the family to customize different layouts throughout the lifetime of the home. Related: Renovated Vietnamese home ‘sewn’ together with intricate steel threads On the interior, the design is minimalist in terms of furniture and decoration, instead using lush vegetation as the foremost design feature. Inspired by the surrounding tropical environment, the designers wanted to pull the exterior inside as much as possible. As a result, various trees and garden pockets are distributed throughout the home, creating a healthy, vibrant greenhouse feel. The home’s perforated white cladding helps feed the vegetation, which in return, provides clean breathing environment for the family, something especially important in a city known for its urban pollution . Via Archdaily Photography by Quang Dam  

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Glowing see-through garden house lets plants soak up the sun

Solar-powered Villa Schoorl blends into Hollands polder landscape

May 31, 2017 by  
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Natural materials and sustainable principles led the design of Villa Schoorl, a contemporary home nestled in the green polders near the North Holland dunes. Surrounded by mills and farmhouses, the contemporary villa references the local rural vernacular with its vertical timber cladding but distinguishes itself using an eyecatching sawtooth roof. Designed by Paul de Ruiter Architects , the energy-efficient dwelling is predominately powered by rooftop solar panels. The Villa Schoorl was mostly built with natural materials to blend the building into the landscape as much as possible. “It was essential to design a villa which in its appearance and its materials is in sync with this context,” said the firm, which clad the home in untreated timber to match the nearby forests. The majority of the villa is tucked underground to further minimize its visual effect on the landscape. Despite its partially subterranean design, Villa Schoorl is flooded with natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling glazing, skylights, and a central glass atrium . Bedrooms, a hobby room, yoga room, and bathroom are located underground. An open-plan living area, dining room, and kitchen are placed aboveground and surrounded by sliding glass doors that can be shielded with vertical folding elements for privacy and solar shading. Homeowners also have access to a covered terrace on the south end. Related: Solar-powered luxury villa is an energy-neutral gem set in a Dutch dune landscape Rooftop solar panels are mounted on the southernmost part of the sloped roof and the renewable energy harnessed provide a major part of the home’s energy supply. A wood stove connected to central heating helps to heat the home efficiently in winter. + Paul de Ruiter Architects Images by Tim Van de Velde

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Solar-powered Villa Schoorl blends into Hollands polder landscape

Mobile Smartdome homes pop up almost anywhere starting at 20k

May 31, 2017 by  
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Dome homes are durable, efficient, and—above all—fun to live in. Now you can get your hands on your very own mobile dome home with Slovenian firm smartdome construction . Available in a variety of styles, the Smartdome consists of prefabricated modules engineered for energy efficiency and designed for the enjoyment of nature lovers and DIY enthusiasts. Built on a set of adjustable steel legs, the elevated Smartdome sits lightly on the land with the option of placement in degraded and difficult terrain. Thanks to its modular design , the homes can be easily expanded, dismantled, and transported to new locations with little technical knowledge needed. The base Smartdome model measures 25 square meters with a starting cost of 19,900€. Related: These gorgeous glass homes can pop up in 8 hours for under $50k “The project is really something fresh and different […] for every nature lover,” said Željko Ho?evar of smartdome construction to Inhabitat. “It’s the first printed dodecahedron structure in the world.” The modules are constructed from galvanized steel and a laminated and moisture-resistant timber framework sealed with UV-resistant rubber gaskets. Buyers can choose between transparent modules with two or three-layer thermoformed polycarbonate or opaque versions filled with mineral wool or space-tech foil. All Smartdome homes are designed, engineered, and manufactured in Slovenia. + smartdome construction

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Mobile Smartdome homes pop up almost anywhere starting at 20k

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