This scarf protects against air pollution, allergens and viral infections

October 1, 2018 by  
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Air pollution is a major problem around the world, but one company is helping people stay safe no matter where they live. Bioscarf has created a stylish accessory that doubles as a safety mask for people living in places with high concentrations of pollution. These handy scarves help fight against air pollutants, allergens and viral infections, like the cold and flu. Bioscarf offers its product in a handful of colors, including white, black, green and a camouflage print. Each scarf is made from high-quality polyester and carries the company’s logo. They are roughly 7 feet long and just under a foot wide, making them ideal for burying your face into when cold winds breeze by you. While these scarves are fashionable , they also protect against allergens and viral infections. This includes the cold and influenza, both of which are common infections that become a problem every year in larger urban areas. Related: Scientists find air pollution leads to significant decline in cognition The scarves work by filtering out more than 94 percent of contaminants in the air , keeping you just as healthy as a traditional safety mask. According to the company, testing showed that the Bioscarf filtered nearly 100 percent of airborne particulates with a size 0.1 or larger, including pneumonia, step throat, influenza, tuberculosis, animal dander, pollen and cigarette smoke. Co-founder Hazel Solle was inspired to create the scarf after a vacation to China with her family. Her husband, Carlton, got sick overseas, and a doctor told them it was likely because of the air pollution. The doctor recommended they wear masks, inspiring the couple to think of a better solution. Hazel also recalled growing up in Costa Rica and making tiny scarves out of leftover materials for her dolls. The idea hit her that scarves could double as fashion pieces and air pollution masks. In addition to its scarf lineup, the company also has a special program where it donates a scarf to charity for each one it sells — a great incentive for consumers who want to help those in need. “Experts say that over 2 billion kids around the world are breathing toxic air and nobody is talking about it,” Hazel said.“It’s time to not only raise awareness about this issue, but to more importantly give many of the people at risk who don’t have the means to protect themselves something to help them combat air pollution on a daily basis.” + Bioscarf

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This scarf protects against air pollution, allergens and viral infections

Henning Larsen unveils green, mountain-inspired buildings for Shanghai

September 14, 2018 by  
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Henning Larsen Architects has unveiled designs for the first phase of the “The Springs,” a mixed-use development currently underway in Shanghai that aims to embrace green living. Inspired by a style of traditional Chinese landscape painting called ‘shan shui,’ the Danish architecture firm crafted the buildings in the image of the dramatic, mountainous landscapes found throughout rural China. Trees and gardens will grow on top and around the stepped towers to create an immersive urban oasis of green. Developed for real estate company Tishman Speyer , The Springs is located on a 66-acre plot in Shanghai’s Yangpu district and will incorporate a mix of residential, commercial and retail. With a proposed 40 percent green ratio and a 33-acre wetland eco-park next door, the planned development embraces green living in both its surroundings and its design. At its core, Henning Larsen designed a series of terraced high-rises layered with greenery and clustered around a green public square to create a sheltered microclimate for improving air quality , reducing noise pollution and promoting natural light. “We wanted to create a protected environment in this city center that contributes to the potential for this development to become a new focus that generates and attracts public life in uptown Shanghai,” said Claude Bøjer Godefroy, design director and partner at Henning Larsen. “We understand sustainability in broad terms. It is important to offer people an environmentally friendly surrounding while at the same time developing a building that stages human interaction.” Related: MAD Architects-designed residences rise like mountains in a UNESCO Heritage site According to Tishman Speyer, The Springs will feature LEED Gold certification for the Core & Shell of the first phase. Public health will be promoted through a pedestrian-friendly design that boasts abundant open space and excellent transportation infrastructure.The Springs development broke ground July 12, 2018 and is slated for completion in 2020. + Henning Larsen Architects Images via Henning Larsen Architects

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Google Street View cars will map air pollution in cities worldwide

September 13, 2018 by  
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Air quality sensors are coming to a Google Street View car near you. The tech giant just announced plans to introduce sensors from a San Francisco company called Aclima that test air quality in cities and towns all across the globe. The Google Street View cars take photographs and incorporate them into Google Maps. Aclima is installing the air quality sensors in Google vehicles based in Mexico City, Houston and Sydney. The sensors will detect amounts of carbon dioxide , nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide wherever the cars go. The goal is to map out where pollution is becoming a problem and inform users about which areas of towns and cities have the poorest air quality. Related: Google hits its incredible 100% renewable energy goal A few months ago, Aclima installed some air quality sensors in London to test whether or not they would work with Google’s vehicles. All of the company’s hard work paid off and directly led to the partnership and expansion. This is not the first time Aclima has worked with Google and its Street View division. In 2015, Aclima helped Google determine the air quality on the company’s campus in California . Aclima has also used the cars to test air quality around the Bay Area. Since collaborating with Aclima three years ago, Google’s cars have traveled about 100,000 miles in California. So far, the sensors have generated more than a billion points of data, a lot of which can be used to plan future urban development projects. For example, developers can use the data to pinpoint where pollution problems exist and build neighborhoods in places where the air quality is higher. Google plans to have the sensors installed in its fleet by the end of this fall. Google Earth Outreach manager Karin Bettman said, “These measurements can provide cities with new neighborhood-level insights to help accelerate efforts in their transition to smarter, healthier cities .” + Aclima + Google Via Tech Crunch , Fast Company Image via Aclima

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Google Street View cars will map air pollution in cities worldwide

Pipeline leaks 8,000 gallons of jet fuel into Indiana river

September 10, 2018 by  
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An oil company based out of Texas has confessed to a faulty pipeline leaking 8,000 gallons of jet fuel into an Indiana river. Buckeye Pipe Line, based out of Houston, admitted that it detected a pressure loss in its fuel line last week. A break in the line poured thousands of gallons of fuel into a river near Decatur, Indiana, a town with slightly less than 10,000 people. Buckeye Pipe Line closed its line as soon as it detected the leak. Unfortunately, the leak still dumped thousands of gallons of jet fuel into St. Marys River, which runs about 100 miles northeast of Indianapolis. Officials in Decatur installed booms in the river to help stop the spread of the fuel while workers skimmed it from the surface of the water with vacuums. Related: TransCanada natural gas pipeline explodes in West Virginia The mayor of Decatur, Kenneth L. Meyer, believes removing the fuel will take weeks. The Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) is monitoring the situation and checking fuel levels in businesses and homes close to the spill site. The EPA is also checking the quality of water at different spots further downstream to determine how far the spill has traveled. Residents of Decatur first learned about the spill late Friday night after the local police issued a warning. The Decatur Police Department told citizens to stay away from the river until the cleanup was over. Buckeye Pipe Line is not planning on re-opening the line until the pressure issue is dealt with and everything is safe to run. Although 8,000 gallons of jet fuel ended up in the river, the EPA does not believe the town’s water supply will be affected by the spill. Residents might, however, notice a change in air quality . Meanwhile, this spill offers environmentalists further evidence of the dangers of new oil and gas pipelines. Via Associated Press and EcoWatch Image via  Ray Bodden

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Pipeline leaks 8,000 gallons of jet fuel into Indiana river

A historic farmhouse is transformed into a modern home with a green roof

September 10, 2018 by  
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The building elements of a century-old farmhouse in Park City, Utah have been salvaged and transformed into a beautiful and contemporary new residence that pays homage to its historic rural past. Located on a nearly 80-year-old forested plot of spruce and cottonwood trees, the former farmhouse was beyond repair and needed to be demolished. Wanting to save the spirit of the structure, the owners turned to Salt Lake City- and Los Angeles-based design studio Sparano + Mooney Architecture to design a modern abode that would occupy the former building’s footprint and make use of as many recycled materials as possible. Named the Reddish Residence, the two-story home spreads out over 4,000 square feet. A natural materials palette of timber and stone tie the building to the landscape, while elements like recycled wood and metal reference the farmhouse vernacular. Inspired by the petrified wood — fossilized remains of trees or plants that turn into stone — found on the site, the architects used building materials that also visually morph over time. Consequently, the Reddish Residence exterior includes weathering steel and reclaimed cedar that’s treated with the Shou Sugi Ban  technique for a charred, blackened finish. Further tying the modern house into its surroundings are the abundance of landscaping, a green roof atop the charred cedar-clad addition and large full-height glazing. In contrast to the mostly muted exterior palette, the interior is full of colors, patterns and textures set on a backdrop of mainly white-painted walls and concrete floors. The existing metal silo was preserved and renovated to house the home office. The rooftop is also topped with solar panels. Related: Minimalism adds a modern twist to this traditional farmhouse “This architecture takes a contemporary approach to form,” the architects said. “The house responds to the site by acting as a moderator between interior spaces and the landscape. Arcades, overhangs, courtyards and site walls articulate that relationship. An arcade marked by a gesture to the street bisects an entry courtyard. This path forms a strong entry sequence that welcomes and guides the visitor through a choreographed threshold and provides a series of expanding glimpses of the site. The design offers both ideal southern orientation and full access to the mountain and meadow views.” + Sparano + Mooney Architecture Images by Scot Zimmerman

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Scientists find air pollution leads to a significant decline in cognition

August 28, 2018 by  
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It turns out pollution affects more than just the environment. New research shows there might be a correlation between significant air pollution and cognitive decline in humans. Scientists hope their research will lead to changes in how countries deal with excessive air pollution, especially in heavily populated urban areas. Over the course of several years, more than 25,000 people hailing from 162 different counties in China were studied. The researchers published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and are calling for China to reform its pollution policies. The researchers believe China can significantly increase the population’s education level by adhering to the U.S. EPA guidelines. So, how did researchers link pollution with cognitive decline? The scientists performed verbal and math exams on all of the subjects in 2010 and again in 2014. The data from the exams were then compared between the years, and the team linked these changes to  air pollution . The researchers found that the older subjects performed worse on the tests, which led the team to believe that pollution has a bigger effect on brains as people age. The study also showed that individuals with little education were more affected by pollution, possibly because they typically work outdoors. Although the researchers were confident in linking pollution and cognitive decline, they are not sure why it is happening. Xi Chen, study co-author and professor of health policy at Yale, believes that pollution could be harming white matter in the brain , a region that controls communication within this important organ. James Hendrix, the head of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Global Science Initiative, disagrees. Hendrix does not believe the researchers have any evidence to suggest that pollution is damaging white matter. He also argues that associating air pollution with cognitive deterioration is difficult, because there are too many other factors at play. Either way, it’s clear that air pollution is negatively impacting our health and our planet. + Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Via NPR Images via Fredrik Rubensson and  Nicolò Lazzati

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Eating seaweed could reduce cows’ methane production

July 5, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of California, Davis have found a surprising food source that could help reduce cows’ methane production: seaweed. A recent study from the university suggests bovines who eat an experimental mix of special food and a specific strain of seaweed produce less greenhouse gas than their peers. According to Pennsylvania State University , agriculture contributes up to seven percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions. Each day, ruminal animals (like cows) belch up to 264 gallons of carbon dioxide and methane. As much as 20 percent of agricultural methane emissions comes from animal burps alone. Related: How seaweed eating super cows will save the world To reduce those emissions, UC Davis researchers experimented with new feed combinations for cows. The cows’ hay is mixed with up to one percent of a naturally occurring red algae , Asparagopsis armata. To encourage the cows to eat the new food, molasses is added as a natural sweetener and to mask the salty taste and smell. To measure effectiveness, researchers take the livestock to a special “breathalyzer” chamber three times daily, where cows’ breath is measured for gas content in exchange for a cookie. The cows who ate the seaweed-mixed feed saw a significant reduction in methane production . Across three two-week experiments, cows who ate the highest mix of algae saw their methane production drop by half. The research team called the findings a “dramatic reduction in methane emissions.” But did it change the dairy cows’ milk? Although the seaweed-eating cows produced slightly less milk, the feed didn’t change the milk’s taste. A blind taste-test conducted with 25 people discovered “no off-notes” in the dairy products . Any hints of saltiness or fish did not transfer over to the cows’ milk production. Before seaweed can become a major part of agricultural feed, the industry must overcome several hurdles. This includes changing the seaweed flavor to be palatable to cows and growing enough algae for agricultural purposes. In addition, growing feed must be economically viable for farmers. Using feed to reduce cow emissions is part of a bigger plan to cut greenhouse gases in California. State Senate Bill 1383 mandated that farms must reduce their methane production by 40 percent over the next 12 years. Via NPR

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UN creates a new global climate change coalition

June 1, 2018 by  
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Earth has a “30-year window of opportunity” to tackle climate change, according to World Meteorological Organization (WMO) secretary-general Petteri Taalas. He called for greater urgency in carrying out the Paris Agreement as the leaders of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) together with WMO launched a brand-new climate change coalition. Every year 12.6 million people perish due to environmental risks — air pollution in particular — and the group aims to lower that number. Average temperatures in 2017 were 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to the UN, while global average concentrations of carbon dioxide were greater than 400 parts per million (ppm). Taalas said climate change is impacting developing countries — the cost of natural disasters reached a new record in 2017. The three UN organizations already work together, but under the new coalition will strengthen action on guarding health from climate change- and environment -related risks. Taalas, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and UNEP executive director Erik Solheim came together to form the coalition and spoke to delegates at the World Health Assembly about opportunities and challenges to come. Related: 95% of the world’s population breathes unsafe air Air pollution is one such challenge. Around seven million people die prematurely each year from diseases related to air pollution, such as respiratory illness, cancer, heart disease, or strokes. According to the UN, in many of the world’s major cities, air pollution is higher than WHO air quality standards. Pollutants which threaten human health also contribute to climate change and damage the environment — examples are waste incineration or black carbon from diesel engines. The UN said lowering what they called short-lived climate pollutant emissions coming from agriculture, traffic, industry, or cookstoves, for example, “could help trim the rate of global warming by about 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2050.” Solheim said, “If we speed up on renewable energy solutions, fewer people will die from air pollution. Let’s create a pollution-free environment.” One of the coalition’s first outcomes will be a Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health , which will take place at WHO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland from October 30 to November 1. + United Nations Climate Change Images via Depositphotos

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This lightweight, soda can-sized air purifier destroys mold, VOCs and odors

May 30, 2018 by  
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Did you know that indoor air pollution can be as bad as or worse than outdoor air pollution? From off-gassing chemicals in paints to mold and dust, the contaminated air inside our homes and offices negatively impacts our health and can lead to fatigue and dizziness, or even respiratory diseases in the long-term. Fortunately, air purification technology has improved in recent years to offer easy and affordable ways to combat indoor air pollutants. Read on to see our review of one such product, the Luft Qi , an on-the-go and filter-free air purifier billed as the smallest of its kind in the world. About Luft Qi Developed by Taiwanese company Titus & Wayne, the Luft Qi air purifier is described as the “first compact air purifier using nanotechnology.” The air purifier uses a method called photocatalytic oxidation (PCO), a technology originally invented by NASA to prevent food spoilage — for instance, by removing bacteria in meat or pesticides from fruits and vegetables — and has since been applied to air purification. Here’s how it works: broad-spectrum ultraviolet light — Luft Qi uses UV-A LEDs  — is combined with a tungsten oxide modified titanium oxide (TiO2) filter to create highly reactive oxidizers that break down harmful molecular-sized and microbial pollutants. Luft Qi isn’t the first to use PCO technology for air purification; followers of Ellen DeGeneres might remember her shout-out to the Airocide PCO air purifiers on her show in 2013. Advantages of Luft Qi Unlike Airocide, however, Luft Qi is much smaller and more compact. Made of aluminum , the soda can-shaped device only weighs 160 grams and its modern design, available in six different colors, means it probably won’t clash with your existing setup. Moreover, since Luft Qi only uses PCO, the device is conveniently filter-free, meaning that you’ll never need to buy or replace the filter. When plugged in, Luft Qi will gently draw air in through its perforated base, where pollutants are then broken down through photocatalytic oxidation. The purified air is then pushed through the top, with carbon dioxide and water molecules as byproducts. PCO technology has also proven effective at removing ultra fine particulates, airborne mold spores and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and exhaust fumes. Luft Qi is designed for on-the-go convenience and comes with a standard 3.3-foot-long USB-C to USB-A cable that can plug into a laptop or any USB port adapter outlet. The startup says that the device can be safely used 24 hours a day and attribute its minimal electricity demands of 2.5W to an energy-efficient design. The air purifier uses a hidden brushless fan — the same as those used for computer servers — with a measurable noise level of around 25 decibels, which isn’t very quiet, but isn’t loud enough to be distracting either; it is quieter than most air purifiers. Luft Qi is estimated to last at least 4.5 years without replacement. Disadvantages of Luft Qi Despite Luft Qi’s many benefits, there are several downsides to the product. Firstly, since Luft Qi only uses PCO technology instead of filters, the device cannot remove larger particulates like traditional devices with HEPA filters can. This means Luft Qi will not eliminate pollen, dust, dust mites or pet dander, which are among the major contributors to poor indoor air quality and allergies. Due to its small size, Luft Qi also requires a long time to achieve desirable results and is best used in contained rooms such as bedrooms or car interiors. And while Luft Qi does eliminate odors, it also does so at a fairly slow rate; carbon filters are a better choice for odor removal. Moreover, PCO technology produces carbon dioxide as a byproduct. While the amount produced is likely small, those who want to keep Luft Qi turned on 24 hours a day will need to introduce adequate ventilation. Speaking of constant use, Luft Qi’s PCO technology also has its drawbacks for those hoping to sleep with it plugged in at night. While the constant fan noise can be dismissed as white noise, the device’s bright blue light can be distracting in an otherwise dark room. Putting Luft Qi on the ground isn’t a good option either; the air purifier should be elevated above the floor since it relies on the surrounding environment’s air circulation to work optimally. Should You Buy Luft Qi? Overall, Luft Qi isn’t the best air purifier given its small size and the limitations of PCO technology. If you really want to get rid of indoor air pollution, it’s best to use PCO technology in conjunction with air purifiers with filters. Luft Qi’s relatively steep price may also put buyers off. However, if you’re mainly interested in removing VOCs, microbial pollutants, odors and mold spores in small, contained environments, Luft Qi is a good choice. This particularly holds true in small offices or rooms in tropical and humid environments where mold is an ever-present concern, like Taiwan, where the Luft Qi startup is based. Furthermore, the product is nicely designed, well-constructed and doesn’t become hot to the touch. Titus & Wayne launched Luft Qi on Indiegogo in a successful crowdfunding campaign that’s since raised more than $215,000. From now until mid-June, Luft Qi is available for $99 , not including shipping, in an early-bird special with an estimated delivery in July 2018. The product’s regular retail price is $169. + Luft Qi Images via Luft Qi

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This lightweight, soda can-sized air purifier destroys mold, VOCs and odors

This spiraling sculpture can absorb the emissions of 90,000 cars

April 25, 2018 by  
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Kengo Kuma just unveiled a spiraling, air-purifying sculpture that can absorb the emissions produced by 90,000 cars in a year. Kuma’s “Breath/ng” is made from a cutting-edge fabric with a nano-molecule activated core that separates and absorbs toxic molecules. Developed by Anemotech , this pollution-neutralizing material uses the natural flow of air to purify the surrounding environment. Created from 120 hand-folded origami “ Breath ” panels (each 1.2 meters by 1.2 meters), Kuma’s spiraling work is about six meters tall. The installation’s 175 square meters of fabric are enough to absorb the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from around 90,000 cars per year. The spiral is suspended from a single carbon fiber rod and fixed in place by 46 unique 3D-printed joints, which were made with a HP Multi Jet Fusion printer . Related: A giant, air-purifying “cloud” just popped up in the middle of Milan The entire “Breath/ng” structure was developed using advanced Dassault Systèmes software and tools. In fact, the French company — a leader in the 3D design world — invited and inspired Kuma to explore the theme, “Design in the Age of Experience.” Along with Kuma’s spiral, Dassault Systèmes presented other ecological works by Daan Roosegaarde and Wesley Goatley e Superflux at Milan Design Week 2018. The powerful aesthetics of Kuma’s air purifying installation offer a great zero-energy solution for contaminated cities. The installation boldly transforms the nearly-invisible problem of air pollution into a visible, tangible experience. + Kengo Kuma + Milan Design Week Images via Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat

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This spiraling sculpture can absorb the emissions of 90,000 cars

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